As a USA TODAY poll shows record levels of support for same-sex marriage, a Detroit judge agreed not to dismiss the case of a Michigan couple fighting to overturn the state's 2004 ban on gay marriage.
Judge Bernard Friedman wrote in his opinion that April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse's claims that Michigan's constitutional amendment violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution "has sufficient merit to proceed," even after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act last week.
The poll, released Monday, finds 55 percent of Americans say same-sex marriages should be recognized by law as valid compared with 40 percent who say they shouldn't be. In 1996, only 27 percent favored gay marriage.
"I didn't think in my lifetime a lot of things would happen," said Taylor Kelsaw of Okemos, who is gay. "The end of apartheid, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama. These are things that are certainly indications that change can happen and will happen."
Philip Pucillo, a law professor at Michigan State University, says he sees the legalization as inevitable, based on the strong language he says the court used in issuing its decision to strike down DOMA.
"What's implied in what the U.S. Supreme Court said is that the state, by refusing to recognize same-sex marriage, would also be denying the dignity that a relationship recognized by the constitution as a fundamental right," he said.
It's the same language that Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan and author of the 2004 Michigan Marriage Amendment, finds "outrageous" and "pompous." He called the Supreme Court's decision "ideological rather than constitutional."
"We just reject the notion that five individuals get to dictate to the nation what laws are," Glenn said. "That's not what the Founding Fathers intended in the Constitution."
Michigan State Representative Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) agreed, saying his side now needs to be diligent in defending the institution of marriage -- what he sees as the "fabric of the nation."
"We have to double down now on protecting and preserving what Michigan citizens have clearly defended as the proper and only defend-able and moral and biblical definition of marriage," he said.
Glenn and Shirkey said they don't believe the numbers in the polls -- which Shirkey called unscientific -- and even say they are confident the amendment would prevail if put to another vote.
After all, Glenn said, a Gallup poll predicted the 2004 Michigan Marriage Amendment would be defeated, only for the measure to prevail with 58 percent of people voting in favor.
"What counts," Glenn said, " is what happens on election day."
The Michigan court case will continue July 10, when both sides will meet to set a trial date. Both gay-marriage supporters and opponents say they see the case eventually reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.