Ingham County claims Michigan's first gay marriage

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UPDATE: The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Saturday ordered a stay until Wednesday of Friday’s ruling that upended Michigan’s ban on gay marriage


Ingham County Chronicle staff

Ingham Clerk Barb Byrum wasted no time this morning and neither did Lansing newlyweds Glenna DeJong and Marsha Caspar.

At 7:58 a.m., Byrum tweeted, “Marsha & Glenna have been together for 26 years and are getting married RIGHT NOW!!”

A Friday afternoon decision by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan’s 2004 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, opening the door for gays and lesbians to marry in Michigan.

Byrum was tweeting through the night and up early in what became a race to perform Michigan’s first gay marriage.

On Thursday, the day before Friedman’s ruling, she had tweeted on @BarbByrum, “Ingham County resident interested in getting married?” She posted a link to marriage documents with the tweet. Byrum had planned to perform gay marriages in October when the law was struck down but then immediately appealed by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. That kept the ban intact. Disappointed couple who had come to courthouses across Michigan had to wait for the next ruling.

At 3:25 Friday, Byrum tweeted, “I have performed four wedding ceremonies, today. I am hopeful that I am suddenly requested to perform a lot more.” The tweet included a graphic of two rainbow-colored silhouettes of couples, a pair of men and a pair of women. Byrum’s Twitter profile picture has her photo and a pink, transparent triangle with a map of Michigan.

The decision came Friday and appeared on the federal docket in Detroit shortly after 5 p.m.

After the ruling, Byrum began tweeting links to stories about it in the Lansing State Journal, on MLive, the Associated Press and the Huffington Post.

Around 6 p.m. Friday, Byrum again tweeted a link to marriage license documents, reminding couples that at last one would have to be an Ingham County resident for her to marry them and said that marriages would begin on Monday.

@Nowooski and @SarahK_Michigan tweeted back, asking why she should wait. @Nowooski tweeted, “Is there a legal reason for that?” He also tweeted, “Monday? No weekend hours?”

Byrum replied, “No, sorry :(. Monday 8am”

@Nowooski persisted: “It seems like this would be a great time to have extended hours. Folks have waited years for this.”

About 11 p.m., @SarahK_Michigan tweeted “Washtenaw, Muskegon, Oakland counties all open tomorrow for marriage licenses. Why not Ingham?” Apparently, other clerks were not waiting for Monday.

Byrum had a restless night. Around 3 a.m., she tweeted, “I cannot sleep.”

Around 6 a.m. Byrum tweeted “Change of Plans: Ingham County Clerk’s Mason Office WILL BE OPEN at 8am TODAY!” She tweeted several times, directing one to @SarahK_Michigan and several to different media outlets.

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 9.47.04 PMByrum headed over to the courthouse and tweeted a picture of a coffee maker at 7:39 a.m. with the message, “Coffee brewing”.

Twenty minutes later, just before 8 a.m., Byrum tweeted that DeJong and Caspar were getting married, although the accompanying photo shows them being interviewed.

Around 9 a.m., an Associated Press story reported, “A county clerk in central Michigan has issued the state’s first marriage license for a same-sex-couple.”

Schuette on Friday had asked for a stay of the federal court ruling so he can file an appeal, but none had been granted.

Eighteen states now allow gay marriages.

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