Michigan same sex marriage case delayed, frustrating gay activists
By Steve Neavling and Joseph Lichterman
DETROIT (Reuters) - A federal judge in Detroit said on Wednesday that a lawsuit brought by a lesbian couple seeking to marry will go to trial in February, disappointing gay activists who had gathered outside the court in the hope Michigan's ban on same sex nuptials might be immediately overturned.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman had been expected to rule as early as Wednesday during a hearing on the case, brought by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a lesbian couple from suburban Detroit who want to jointly adopt each other's children.
Dozens of gay marriage supporters rallied outside the federal courthouse before the hearing, waving rainbow flags and holding signs advocating equality. One opponent stood across the street with a sign that declared homosexuality a sin.
Some county clerks in Michigan said they received numerous calls before the hearing asking whether they would perform same sex marriages if the judge ruled.
The questions prompted Michigan's Republican attorney general, Bill Schuette, to take the unusual step of sending a letter to clerks before the court hearing, telling them they could not perform gay marriages until the case was settled on appeal.
A few county clerks in some other states that bar same sex marriage, such as Pennsylvania, have issued marriage licenses in defiance of state bans.
Judge Friedman, who admitted as he arrived in court that he had never been so nervous about a case, said he would not rule on Wednesday and that the case would go to trial beginning on February 25.
"I'm in the middle," Friedman said. "I have to decide this as a matter of law and I intend to do so." Continued...