- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - A judge whose decision to overturn Michigan’s ban on gay marriage was embraced Friday by the U.S. Supreme Court said he’s “absolutely” willing to officiate at the marriage of two Detroit-area nurses at the center of the historic case.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said he was accompanying his wife to a medical appointment but wanted to be close to his phone around 10 a.m. He was in his car when he got a call from another judge, Judith Levy, who is a lesbian and formerly served as his law clerk.

“She yelled, ‘We won!’” Friedman told The Associated Press. “Tears came to my eyes. … It’s fantastic.”

April DeBoer said she and Jayne Rowse would like Friedman to marry them, probably in late summer or early fall. His response: “Absolutely.”

“It seems very right to have him be the one to perform the ceremony,” DeBoer said.

Friedman, 71, has been a federal judge since 1988. It was Friedman who suggested that Rowse and DeBoer challenge a 2004 Michigan constitutional amendment that recognized marriage only as between a man and a woman.

Rowse and DeBoer had sued in Friedman’s court in 2012 to challenge a state law that prevented them from jointly adopting each other’s children. But the judge said they probably needed to attack the gay marriage ban because joint adoption in Michigan was reserved only for married heterosexuals. They agreed, and a narrow case suddenly had the potential to be groundbreaking.

“It’s an important decision for our country,” Friedman said of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling. “It affirms we’re a country of equal protection.”

He said he’s received hundreds of letters - pro and con - since declaring Michigan’s ban illegal in 2014, a decision that worked its way to the high court.

“I don’t want to be known for one case or one decision,” Friedman said. “I want to be known as a good, fair judge.”

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Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap

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