Pending Federal Ruling, Ingham Co. Clerk Ready to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

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County Clerks across the state, including in Ingham County, are ready to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

A federal judge judge in Detroit could strike down the state's ban on same-sex marriage in a case which started with a lawsuit filed by two women in the Detroit area.

The women wanted to adopt each others children but current state law does not allow unmarried couples to adopt and the state constitution doesn't allow them to be married.

Local same-sex couples are hoping for a favorable ruling.

"We never dreamed of marriage when I first came out... it just wasn't in the vocabulary and now here we are," said William Sawyer-Todd who has been with his partner Michael for 13 years.

The couple said they've always wanted to marry in Michigan since they are both from the state and say Wednesday's ruling would be significant even though they already considered themselves married.

"It's almost just a paperwork issue for us," Michael said while smiling. "We've considered ourselves married the whole time but it'll be nice to be legally recognized."

Both Michael and William will be joining Robin and Betsy Miner-Swartz at the Ingham County courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

"It's really exciting to think there are going to be a whole lot of people with an October 16th wedding anniversary," Robin said.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said she's prepared to issue marriage licenses as soon as a ruling comes down.

"I'm very hopeful that we're going to see some equality in our state," Byrum said. "It's going to be a wonderful opportunity for all loving couples to marry and I'm looking forward to that."

However, whichever way the judge rules, this case is likely to go all the way to the U.S Supreme Court. Even if the judge overturns the state's ban a stay could be issued until the appeals process runs its course.

The Attorney General's office has said attempts to overturn any ban on same-sex marriage should be done by the voters and not the courts.

Equality Michigan, a gay rights advocacy group, has posted a full online database of clerks around the state who plan to issue licenses if the ban is lifted.

William (left) and Michael Sawyer-Todd (right) have been together for 13 years. They say they're hopeful for a favorable ruling Wednesday.
Betsy (left) and Robin Miner-Swartz (right) have been together for 10 years and plan to be waiting at the Ingham County Courthouse Wednesday to hear the ruling come down.

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