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Same-sex marriage ban could be lifted as soon as Wednesday
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - As soon as Wednesday, a U.S. District Judge could rule on lifting Michigan's same-sex marriage ban.
Voters approved the ban in 2004.
Judge Bernard Friedman will also decide whether Michigan's ban on same-sex adoption is unconstitutional.
The decision comes 3 months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
Newschannel 3 sat down with a couple that has been together 10 years, and while they say their relationship won't change with a piece of paper, financially and legally it will change a great deal.
They will have access to hundreds of rights they're denied because the state doesn't consider their relationship legal.
It makes me feel like a second class citizen, said Tammy Collins, who is waiting and hoping to be legally married. I work, I pay my taxes, I do everything that a heterosexual couple does, we've been together 10 years, but they could be together 10 minutes and have 1,100 basic rights that I don't have.
Tammy Collins and her wife Amy are celebrating their 10th anniversary this week, following a civil union in Vermont a decade agoa milestone the State of Michigan won't recognize.
There are literally hundreds of laws at the state and federal level that use marriage in the law, explained Devin Schindler, a professor at Cooley Law School. We have divorce laws, we have adoption laws, which is the issue in Detroit, we have tax laws.
Those are obstacles that Tammy and Amy have struggled with, especially when it comes to the couple's two children.
If something were to happen to Amy or their dad, I have no legal ties to them, Tammy said. I have no claim of parenthood other than the relationship we have built over the 10 years.
But a federal ruling could change all that in the next 24 hours. A ruling is expected on whether the current ban on same sex marriage is constitutional.
A ruling that law professor Devin Schindler says isn't clear cut.
We are writing the first chapter at what could be a long book, if the court decides this is unconstitutional, you are at the first in a line of appeals, Schindler said.
While there's no telling what the outcome will be, both Schindler and Collins agree Michiganand the countryare headed toward change.
In my mind, sooner or later the supreme court will have to take up the issue, Schindler said.
One potential outcome would mean that Collins and her family can finally celebrate this couples love, and the legal rights they've been fighting for.
We want to have a ceremony and celebrate with family and friends, she said.
In Kalamazoo County, the clerk tells Newschannel 3 that they will not lift the wait time for a marriage license.
As for Tammy and Amy, they say they'll wait and see what happens with tomorrow's ruling and decide then.