ACLU Leaders Urge Change in Michigan as Supreme Court Decision Paves Way for the Freedom to Marry Nationwide

October 06, 2014

DETROIT – The Supreme Court of the United States today denied review in all of the marriage equality cases pending before it. As a result of the Court’s action, same-sex couples in Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah will now be able to marry the partners they love. Today’s orders also mean that same-sex marriage will soon become lawful in at least 30 states.

“This is a landmark action and represents tremendous progress in the on-going movement for marriage equality nationwide,” Jay Kaplan, ACLU of Michigan LGBT Project staff attorney. “In Michigan, however, same-sex couples are still being denied the freedom to marry, and this decision underscores just how far behind our state continues to lag. We call on Michigan officials to heed the Supreme Court’s unmistakable signal, and stop defending the indefensible so that all loving couples can marry.”

The ACLU was co-counsel in five of the seven petitions that were denied today, in cases from Indiana, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

"This is a watershed moment for the entire country. We are one big step closer to the day when all same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry regardless of where they live. The time has come and the country is ready," said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "This is life-saving news for same-sex couples all across the country. Marriage helps families deal with times of crisis, and the Supreme Court’s action today means more loving and committed couples will have access to the protections that marriage provides."

The ACLU has been working for the rights of LGBT people since 1936, when it brought its first gay rights case. The organization filed the first freedom-to-marry lawsuit for same-sex couples in 1970, represented Edie Windsor in her successful challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013, and has filed thirteen federal marriage lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples since then.

Earlier this year, the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit challenging Michigan’s refusal to recognize the legal marriages of 300 same-sex couples who were wed in March after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on marriage equality and before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put the decision on hold. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were legally married during this window and argues that the state is violating the couples’ due process and equal protection rights by refusing to recognize their marriages.

Key News & Documents

For more information on the ACLU’s work to secure marriage equality across the country

For more information on the ACLU of Michigan’s lawsuit representing the 300 couples married in Michigan