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Judge strikes down Michigan's ban on gay marriage

BY ED WHITE
ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT -- Michigan's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, a federal judge said Friday, striking down a law that was widely embraced by voters a decade ago in the latest in a series of similar decisions across the country.

But unlike cases in other states, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman did not suspend his decision while the Michigan attorney general pursues an appeal. That means clerks could start issuing licenses Monday unless a higher court intervenes.

Friedman released his 31-page ruling exactly two weeks after a rare trial that mostly focused on the impact of same-sex parenting on children. The challenge was brought by two Detroit-area nurses originally seeking to overturn Michigan's ban on joint adoptions by gay couples.

The judge noted that supporters of same-sex marriage believe the Michigan ban was at least partly the result of animosity toward gays and lesbians.

"Many Michigan residents have religious convictions whose principles govern the conduct of their daily lives and inform their own viewpoints about marriage," Friedman said. "Nonetheless, these views cannot strip other citizens of the guarantees of equal protection under the law."

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia issue licenses for same-sex marriage. Since December, bans on gay marriage have been overturned in Texas, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, but appeals have put those cases on hold.

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