A judge has quashed Michigan’s gay marriage ban, after two nurses successfully argued it violated their human rights under the US constitution.
Three marriage clerks said they would begin selling marriage licenses as early as today, but the state is expected to lodge an appeal against the decision.
The historic decision by US District Judge Bernard Friedman followed a two-week trial exploring attitudes and research about homosexual marriage and households led by same-sex couples.
The judge rejected the conclusions of state-hired experts who were asked to defend the rationale behind a constitutional amendment recognising marriage as only between a man and a woman.
The case was brought by partners Jayne Rowse, 49, and April DeBoer, 42, from Detroit, who want to get married and jointly adopt each other’s children.
"In attempting to define this case as a challenge to 'the will of the people,' state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people," judge Freidman said.
"It is the court's fervent hope that these children will grow up 'to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.
"Today's decision is a step in that direction, and affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favour in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail."
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia issue licenses for same-sex marriage. Bans on gay marriage have been overturned in Texas, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia since December, but appeals have put those cases on hold.
Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked a higher court to freeze the landmark ruling while an appeal is pursued.