Federal judge strikes down Michigan gay marriage ban

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A federal judge has struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, making the state the latest to see such a prohibition overturned on constitutional grounds.

The Associated Press reports:

"[U.S. District] Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Friday, two weeks after a trial. Two Detroit-area nurses who've been partners for eight years claimed the ban violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

It was not clear if gay marriages could begin immediately."

Kate Wells, of Michigan Public Radio, says Freidman said the ban had violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause.

Wells reports:

"In his ruling, Friedman says the ban does not advance any legitimate state interest.

"Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette — who argued in favor of the amendment — says he has filed an emergency request for the ruling to be put on hold while the decision is appealed to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The AP says there was no indication if the judge had stayed his decision pending appeal, as happened last month in Texas, when a U.S. District court judge there overturned a similar provision.

Schuette said he would immediately file a request for appeal.

The Michigan ban was approved in 2004 in a state-wide referendum by 60 percent of the voters that recognized marriage as between a man and a woman.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia issue licenses for same-sex marriage.

Besides Texas, Virgina's same-sex marriage ban was also overturned in federal court last month and in January, Oklahoma saw a similar law declared unconstitutional.

A challenge to a ban on same-sex marriage in North Carolina is waiting to be heard. And, in Oregon, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum says her office won't defending a state ban there approved, like Michigan's, in a 2004 referendum.

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