A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [JURIST report] on Wednesday decided not to rule on the constitutionality of the state's ban against same-sex marriage. Judge Bernard Friedman stated [AP report] that there are still issues to be resolved and set a trial date for February 25, noting that plaintiffs have the right to trial. In a 2004 vote [materials], 59 percent of Michigan citizens approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between individuals of the opposite sex. The Michigan Attorney General's Office [official website] has argued that there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage or adoption and that the state has a legitimate interest in defining marriage. Opponents have argued that the state's ban is hurting the most vulnerable members of society. The case was brought by a Michigan same-sex couple who challenged the state's ban on same-sex marriage and adoption in 2012.
The heated debate regarding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing [JURIST op-ed] issues currently facing the US legal community. On Tuesday lawyers for two Portland same-sex couples filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the District of Oregon [official website] challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Earlier this week Buncombe County Register of Deeds [official website] Drew Reisinger began accepting [JURIST report] marriage license applications from same-sex couples and requested review of the decision from North Carolina's Attorney General [official website]. A 2012 amendment to North Carolina's Constitution currently bans same-sex marriage [JURIST report]. The Supreme Court of New Jersey [official website] last week agreed to hear an appeal by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie challenging a lower court ruling that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry [JURIST reports]. Last month Michigan's Treasury Department ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex spouses must file separate tax returns. Also last month a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio expanded a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking the recognition of same-sex spouses on death certificates.