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Posted on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

Gay marriage ralliers in Ann Arbor: 'There are just no words to describe the feeling we have'

By Ryan J. Stanton

Dozens of members of Ann Arbor's gay and lesbian community and allies were in festive spirits late Wednesday as they celebrated the day's historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

Packed into Braun Court, with drinks on tap on the outdoor patio of Aut Bar, they sang and danced and laughed, with songs promoting love and tolerance blasting through a set of speakers.

"Today is definitely a day of celebration," said Aut Bar co-owner Keith Orr. "Fundamentally, it is the beginning of a change, and it'll happen now state by state, court by court, case by case."

Orr and his partner, Martin Contreras, have been together 27 years, yet they've never been allowed to get married in Michigan — and they still can't for now.

The court ruled Wednesday that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages performed by the states and struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage. But the rulings do not affect recognition of same-sex marriages on the state level outside of California.

And so the rulings leave in place Michigan's constitutional amendment barring the state from recognizing same-sex marriages.

"But it's huge that at some point in the not too distant future it's an option for us," Orr said. "When you're together 27 years, we've withstood a lot, but it's always so much better when society is supporting your relationship, instead of not supporting it — or even worse, mocking it."

In attendance at the rally hosted by the Jim Toy Community Center were Marge Eide and Ann Sorrell, both 76. They've been together 40-plus years and were moved to tears Wednesday.

"It's the equivalent of 9/11 for us, in a good way — 6/26 is going to stand out in my mind forever," Eide said. "I mean, we just never dreamt something like this would happen in our lifetime."

More than anything, they said, Wednesday's outcome means public opinion is changing, and society is becoming more accepting of their lifestyle.

"We've been crying all day," Sorrell said. "There are just no words to describe the feeling we have. To see on television the people cheering — and you see them waving American flags as well as rainbow flags — it's now like we're part of America."

Michigan's ban on gay marriage is the subject of a lawsuit in Detroit federal court. Judge Bernard Friedman said in March he would wait to issue a decision until after the Supreme Court ruling.


Washtenaw County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum said his office already is preparing for a wave of same-sex marriage license applications pending the outcome of a case in Detroit federal court dealing with Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Washtenaw County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum said his office already is preparing for that decision and the wave of same-sex marriage license applications likely to follow.

"Pending what the federal court in Detroit says, we're preparing to be ready on the day that decision comes down so we can move right away into issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples," he said. "So we've been looking at forms in other states. Until the state comes up with better forms, we'll have to temporarily modify the ones we've got, but we plan to hit the ground running."

Kestenbaum said he'll also waive the three-day waiting rule for marriage licenses that day without the usual $50 fee imposed.

"For this special occasion, I'll waive the fee," he said. "I understand a number of people are ready to go when that day comes, which might be very soon, and there will be clergy available to conduct weddings right in the county building. It will be quite a day."

State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, and state Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, jointly called on the Michigan Legislature on Wednesday to pass marriage equality legislation they've introduced.

"Based on the comments of some of the Republicans I've worked with over the recent years, the ones who run the show in Lansing, I think it's going to be a real challenge to pass marriage equality with a two-thirds majority," Irwin acknowledged. "However, I'm not going to give up on trying."

Irwin said same-sex couples in Michigan cannot afford to wait any longer for equal protection for their families.

"I think there's a celebratory atmosphere here at the Aut Bar because you're seeing the cracks in the wall of discrimination crumbling right before our very eyes," he said.

Irwin, who called the rulings a partial victory, said there's still a lot of work to do. But he said he's seen increasing tolerance toward same-sex marriage among both Democrats and Republicans.

"I think public opinion is moving so fast on this issue," he said. "We can't give up on the opportunity for a legislative solution, but I do think the public is coalescing around marriage equality and if the legislators are unwilling to do it, before long the citizens are going to have to do it themselves."

Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Carol Kuhnke, who is openly gay, said she's hopeful she'll be able to get married in Michigan someday.

"This is such a huge leap forward," she said of Wednesday's rulings. "I think it's a great day for equality and it's good for both straight and LGBT people. When we all get to love who we want to love, that's good for everybody."

Jim Toy, who is considered the first openly gay man in Michigan and also the co-author of Ann Arbor's non-discrimination policy, offered brief words of encouragement at Wednesday's rally: "We are climbing up the mountain of justice, and I look to see you all on total equality day."

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Sherri Gray

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

Yesterday's Court decisions were milestones, but we have a long way to go. i hope some of you will listen to a marriage equality song i wrote for my niece and her fiancee...the God of my understanding created all of us and loves each of us equally. "What If We Are Just Like You" has received favorable comments from more than 100 countries all over the world. I am proud to say that my song and I are on the right side of history. If you like its message, please pass it on. LGBTs and those of us who love them will continue in our efforts to bring equality to all people.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 8:06 p.m.

This country is ripe to take a step backwards. This could get interesting.


Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Your evangelical "hail mary" pass isn't working. Give it up, your side is losing more and more each day


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

"We've been crying all day," Sorrell said. "There are just no words to describe the feeling we have. To see on television the people cheering — and you see them waving American flags as well as rainbow flags — it's now like we're part of America." {{sniff}} They felt like they weren't part of America just because of who they loved. {{sniff}} Let's keep this good momentum going faster and faster in the right direction! I feel like we just crested the roller coaster's first giant hill, now it's mostly downhill (though not all of course) from here!

Bertha Venation

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

So happy it went this way! I couldn't attend the rally, but tooted as I whizzed by on the Hoveround! Much thanks to those who worked so hard to protect our rights as human beings!


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

I am happy for the LBGT Community but I am surprised at the hatred and judgement coming out of that community on blogs, facebook and comments sections . I have read death threats against the justices that voted against their beliefs and hatred towards people who don't believe in same sex marrieage. I thought the LBGT Community was better than that.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 9:55 p.m.

MIKE, the problem I have is that many people that base their opposition to gay marriage on biblical teachings ignore many more biblical teachings. For instance, in the Bible there are prohibitions against: Shaving. Tattoos. Dwarves in Church. Eating shrimp. Working on The Sabbath (can you imagine if the CEO's of the country had to live under that Biblical Rule? No shopping from Fri-Sun ! No plants running from Fri-Sunday. All depending on how one interprets The Sabbath, so we would have to include Fri sundown until Sunday midnight ) Picking up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard. Mistreating foreigners (illegal aliens, for instance) . Tearing your clothes. Eating – or touching the carcass of - eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. (bats are birds). Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy. Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl. Holding back the wages of an employee overnight. I could go on, and on. Slavery is acceptable under Biblical Law. One thing that is in the Bible, much more often than having sex, is loving each other and taking care of the poor, the ill and the elderly. Maybe we should have laws about that.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

the LBGT community is made up of people, just like any other group. Some are good, some are not. I guess as long as the "2nd amendment solution" is out there...


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

I am always surprised by the bigoted statements made by those who do not agree with the religious people who truly think this is wrong. The hatred and judgement is amazing from the all "accepting" liberal community against religious people and conservatives. If you don't agree with them they vilify and destroy..............


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

Just a guess, but I'd bet that the death threats against the justices that voted to strike down DOMA outnumber those against the justices who voted to uphold it. Shame on anyone, on either side, who issued such threats. As for hatred toward those who don't share one's beliefs ... that's pretty much how same-sex marriage got banned in the first place, right?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Proof of these threats?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

This makes economical sense. Michigan should be on board. MA has reported a substantial increase in the number of domestic violence calls since adopting same sex marriage, hence more police officers. There are some interesting numbers in the medical world too; more medical staff. I will let you do your own research because this post is sure to be removed if I go into much detail. I wonder what type of article would have been written if this ruling went the other way and a large crowd gathered to celebrate the traditional marriage being upheld. Can you imagine singing through loud speakers etc...


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 9:43 p.m.

Whatever "traditional marriage" is. Is that when 50% of hetero marriages end in divorce? Seeing as hetero couple can still get married, in a secular or religious ceremony, then I would say that type of union has been "upheld" just fine. Now if only those that take vows can live up to them. Lets ask Newt and Track how hard they adhere to "till death do us part" and the thought that what God brings together no man can sunder.

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

Go into more detail, please. Provide us with facts and statistics to support your claim. Also, be sure you understand the difference between "correlation" and "causation".


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

I'm sure God is weeping ,that the condition of our society and the family has come to this.

Urban Sombrero

Fri, Jun 28, 2013 : 10:17 a.m.

I don't believe in god, but if he's weeping I'm sure they're tears of joy.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

God is a fictitious being that lives in the sky


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 5:27 a.m.

Great article. A great day for OUR Country.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:26 a.m. obsession with celebrating this story is very suspicious. Sort of along the lines of, "Thou doth elate too much."


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

I'd say based on your numerous comments Usual, you are the one that is "suspect". Coming out of the closet isn't really all that bad.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

Suspicious? Give one good reason why they shouldn't celebrate such a thing? And religion doesn't count as a good reason.

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

Reporters covering a significant historical event, that involves the affirmation of a significant amount of rights, to a significant amount of the population. Weird.

Urban Sombrero

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

I really hope the SCOTUS decisions that were announced today lead the way for Michigan to legalize gay marriage. I look forward to a future where my son is free to marry the man he loves. And, for all others like him to have that same right.

lucinda walsh

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.


Jaime Magiera

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

It's coming.

An Arborigine

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:55 a.m.

I'm all for gay rights, but does need to feature a big PDA photo of anyone so prominently?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

Are you kidding? Next time I see a straight couple on the street I will be sure to tell them to knock it off, no one wants to see that!

lucinda walsh

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:07 a.m.

The photo is joy, pure joy.

Urban Sombrero

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:43 a.m.

I bet you wouldn't think twice to see a picture of a hetero couple kissing.

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:14 a.m.

It captures the spirit of the story: a story about people wanting the freedom to be acknowledged as committed lovers in the eyes of the law. Seems rather apropos.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

JoeBlow luckily America is a secular country. Just because homosexuality is considered a sin in your religion, does not mean the rest of us should be held back from pursuing what makes us happy. So long as no one else is negatively affected of course! How absurd is it to think that you have a right to oppress a population of people because YOUR religion deems their biology sinful. I am an American too, and my religion does not discriminate.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:51 a.m.

eagle - I think you meant 'your religion discriminates against those who DON'T agree with your views. Just looking out for you!:)


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

He never said that he had a right to oppress anyone. He simply said that he believe homosexuality to be a sin. I also am pretty sure your religion discriminates against those who do agree with your views. To say otherwise is to lie to yourself and the public. Everyone discriminates whether they want to admit it or not.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

Those of us who think gay marriage is a sin are ignored and considered hateful by many in this city, I'm already assuming this comment will be deleted. It's crazy to think that I'm treated like the outsider when my belief is one man, one woman.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 4:22 a.m.

There is also a religion that believes it is ok for a man to have more than one wife. While I do not agree with that and I believeTHAT is a sin,I am not one to judge what others do. Hey,that man with 9 wives is not hurting me or my family in any way so, to each his own. There are many sinners in this world but as long as they don't bother me,why do I care?

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:58 a.m.

Usual Suspect, tell that to the people of Greenland.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:25 a.m.

fjord, I'll be tell to tell the climate change alarmists that.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

joe, you don't get to decide what other people do based on something you think you read in a book you like. There are many reasons that the separation of church and state is written into the Constitution through the Bill of Rights — and one of the major reasons is to protect the citizens from the tyranny of theocracy. No religion gets to decide for everyone else who can love whom, or who can marry whom. You can think gay marriage is "sin" all you want, but the instant you and those who share your beliefs try to deprive others of their rights, you're running afoul of the Constitution. If that makes you an outsider ... well, good. It should.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

So don't marry one.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

Not our fault your belief is outdated and pointless.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

Bummer to feel the sting of being in the minority. Don't suppose that will result in greater empathy for the views of others?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

Joejoe, you don't have to like gay marriage, but you can't use that to dictate policy when other people don't share your values. I'm all for you having the right not to support it, but don't impose your antiquated morality on the rest of the country.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:27 a.m.

I support gay marriage and do not believe it is a sin, but I do not consider those who believe it is a sin to be hateful. I respect your beliefs in this area and your commitment and freedom to following them in your life, as I respect gay individuals and believe they should have the same rights. I don't feel you should be treated as an outsider, nor should gay individuals.

Colorado Sun

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

There is reference to Judge Bernard Friedman. Judge Friedman was appointed to the judiciary by President Reagan but has been lauded as a moderate and indeendent thinker. My history with him is that he is very prepared and fair as a jurist. I do believe however that the losing side in the pending case will likely appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and a decision there could be years down the line, making marriage licenses issued in the interim if Judge Friedman strikes down the Michigan law potentially being voided by a later appellate court decision adverse to the LGBT community. The Sixth Circuit , as a whole, is rather conservative.