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Jay Kaplan, LGBT Project Staff Attorney

There was a lot of excitement among supporters of marriage equality swirling around the decision of one judge yesterday... and a lot of disappointment after the judge announced there would be no decision. But sometimes no decision is the best decision. Here's why this could be the best thing for our chances for allowing same-sex couples to marry after all. 

Yesterday, Judge Bernard Friedman of the United District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by an Oakland County lesbian couple challenging Michigan’s marriage ban.

Despite a lot of speculation, Judge Friedman decided to hold a trial on the case, calling on both sides of the argument to present expert witnesses to defend their claims. 

This means that in order to defend Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, their legal team will need to present testimony from experts that convinces the judge that allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children would somehow destroy Michigan. 

This is a good thing and could only strengthen a favorable opinion for marriage equality in Michigan. After all, that's what happened in California.

{C}California's Proposition 8
In California, supporters of marriage equality faced Proposition 8, an amendment to their state constitution that denied same-sex couples the right to marry.

Just like here in Michigan, a judge asked to hear testimony from experts who could back up the rationale for denying gay couples the right to marry. And lo and behold, they couldn’t provide defend their claims. The backers of Proposition 8 called only two witnesses who were unconvincing, and who made mistakes that actually helped the side of marriage equality. 

Turns out that it’s easy to throw around discriminatory claims implying that allowing loving same-sex couples to marry and start families somehow damages our state. It’s much more difficult backing that up with scientific studies to prove that rationale.

In California, a trial was the best possible place to show how ridiculous and flimsy the opposition to marriage equality is. Now Michigan will have that same chance. 

Polls across the country show public support for marriage equality continues to rise and the historic Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will pave the way for equality for lesbian and gay couples across America, but for a full civil rights victory we must take that power into the voting booth and onto the streets to speak out for change.

Here at the ACLU, we're supporting legal and legislative work across our nation to repeal existing marriage amendments and win fair marriage laws through Out For Freedom campaign.

The verdict of one judge is important, but it's through working together and using our voices and our votes that we will truly relegate discrimination against gay and lesbian couples to the dustbin of history.

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