Ingham County weighs in on gay marriage trial

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By Whitney Bunn
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

It was a lawsuit that could change the definition of marriage in the State of Michigan.

In 2004, an amendment to Michigan’s constitution recognized marriage only between a man and a woman.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two nurses from Hazel Park, challenged the ban on gay marriage during a nine-day trial that concluded on Friday, March 7.

The partners sued the state in 2012 seeking the right to marry and adopt children together.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, who presided over the Detroit trial, is deliberating with a decision expected within the next week.

If the amendment is overturned, same-sex marriages will be legal in Michigan.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum says she looks forward to the day that she can perform legal marriage ceremonies for the gay citizens in Ingham County.

“Love is equal. It’s all the same love,” Byrum said. “I look forward to the opportunity to joining same-sex couples in marriage.”

Byrum expects a jam-packed courthouse of couples waiting to be wed if gay marriages are allowed.

“I have my fingers and toes crossed that it will be passed,” said Patricia Scott, a retired resident of Ingham County and strong supporter of marriage equality.

Two of Scott’s close friends are gay. They also recently adopted triplets.

Scott sees no problem in two same-gendered individuals raising children, saying, “I think both parents should want and love a kid more than life itself. It doesn’t matter what gender (they are).”

Another resident of Ingham County, Marshall Sawyer, also agrees with marriage equality in Michigan, but said he believes gay parenting does affect children.

“I think it does influence kids – but not negatively or positively,” said Sawyer. “All options need to be healthy and made available to the kids.”

U.S. federal judges have struck down gay marriage bans in Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas in recent weeks. 17 states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage.

Poll: Do you think gay marriage should be legal in Michigan?

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