Ruling to strike down Michigan gay marriage ban put on hold

Ruling to strike down Michigan gay marriage ban put on hold
Two women exchange rings during their wedding ceremony in the hallway of the Oakland County Courthouse as the woman officiating the wedding reads the marriage vows from her cell phone, after a Michigan federal judge ruled a ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution and must be overturned in Pontiac, Michigan March 22, 2014.

PONTIAC, Michigan - A US appeals court on Saturday placed a temporary hold on a federal judge's ruling that struck down Michigan's ban on gay marriage, a move that followed hastily arranged and joyful wedding ceremonies in the state.

The decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit came one day after the lower court's ruling, which briefly made Michigan the 18th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.

With a temporary stay granted, same-sex couples married on Saturday could find themselves in legal limbo.

The federal appeals court issued a temporary stay in the case until Wednesday, and directed attorneys for the same-sex couple that sued in the case to respond to the state attorney general's request to place the lower court's ruling on hold pending an appeal.

"To allow a more reasoned consideration of the motion to stay, it is ordered that the district court's judgment is temporarily stayed until Wednesday," the ruling said.

The Detroit News reported that in total four counties issued 323 marriage licenses on Saturday before most clerks closed for the day at 1 p.m. local time.

At least 50 people had lined up in the Oakland County clerk's office in Pontiac, on the outskirts of the Detroit metropolitan area, when Clerk Lisa Brown arrived to open it at 8 a.m. local time carrying a heart-shaped balloon.

Brown's staff was among workers in several counties who handed out paperwork to couples undeterred by the Michigan attorney general's immediate appeal of the judge's decision.

Frank Colasonti, 61, and James Barclay Ryder, 48, became the first gay couple to marry in the county. They wore dark suits, with "Same Love, Same Rights" lapel pins.

"We're going to celebrate with a nice quiet lunch and then go pick out our wedding rings," Colasonti said following the ceremony, which took place 26 years after they met at a church.

Moments later, a lesbian couple emerged from the ceremony room, filling the corridor with elated shouts. As more couples arrived, Brown moved the proceedings to an auditorium for a mass wedding ceremony of a dozen couples or more.

Clerics who support gay and lesbian rights also arrived and found quiet corners in the hallways to conduct private ceremonies for couples clutching their newly issued licenses.

Clerks in at least three other counties - Washtenaw, Ingham and Muskegon - opened outside normal business hours on Saturday to issue marriage licenses.

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