GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A trial has been scheduled for February to consider the constitutionality of Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage. But even after that trial plays out, the issue may still be unresolved.
After a Wednesday hearing, federal Judge Bernard Friedman announced he would hold a full trial before deciding whether to throw out the same-sex marriage ban written into Michigan's constitution, which was approved by 59% of voters in 2004.
But no matter the outcome of that trial, there's still a chance the debate won't be over. There's a good chance the losing side will file an appeal to a higher court.
Grand Rapids attorney Mike Dunn said he thinks that no matter what happens, the case will eventually wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
"It's going to be a long court battle. I can see that this could go on for another couple of years, but once it gets to the United States Supreme Court, this could be the one that breaks the whole thing open," Dunn said. "I am pretty sure. And I think that's why this federal judge, this Friedman, said, 'I want to take on this whole battle.'"
He said public opinion on same-sex marriage is changing.
"Little by little by little, you can see that this is all going to become the law of the land at some point. But it takes a long time," he said. "Even Michigan - we have changed our views effectively since 2004. It's not a complete 180 but, boy, it's pretty close. People now either say, 'I don't care all that much,' or, 'I am no longer against it like I used to be 10 years ago.'"
Just moments before Judge Friedman's decision, the Attorney General's Office sent out a letter addressed to the state's 83 county clerks -- who are in charge of issuing marriage licenses.
The letter was written in the anticipation that the federal district court would rule Michigan's ban unconstitutional and stated Schuette's position in bolded and underlined text.
"You are forbidden by Michigan law from issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples during the pendency of the appeal," the letter reads in part. "Even where another court issues an adverse order about Michigan law, you do not have the legal authority to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples where that order is subject to a stay."
Now that the debate has been pushed back to February, Schuette's warning would seem to be a non-issue -- but it does illustrate his opinion.
"It is the duty of the Attorney General to defend Michigan law, which is the law ultimately enacted by the people," the letter concludes. "Because we are a nation of laws, it is imperative that we allow the legal process to unfold. When the decision is final, and all arguments are finished, all the citizens of the state will be bound to follow the decision, whatever its outcome."
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