The day started with the Oakland County clerk, Lisa Brown taking the stand. Ms. Brown is technically a defendant in this matter. However, based on her testimony and her attorney’s opening arguments, she is not, as a practical matter, a hostile witness. As a party, she would be bound by the Judge’s decision, independent of Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette. Ms brown stated that, if this Court ruled the marriage ban unconstitutional, she would follow the Court’s order, even in the face of instructions from the Governor and the AG to refrain from issuing licenses.
Several months ago, Ms. Brown brought this case to the attention of Glen Copeland, the State Registrar and suggested that the State needed to prepare forms that would be available in case the marriage ban was overturned. He was unaware of the case, and asked Ms. Brown to draft a new form to submit to the County Clerk’s Association. The committee at the Association sent her back a second draft, and the forms are currently at the AG’s office waiting approval. Ms. Brown stated that she believed the forms were intentionally being held up at the AG’s office, but that if a form had not been approved at the time they were needed, that she would use the current form and alter it to fit the couple before her at that time.
Ms. Brown stated that her personal feelings and religious beliefs are irrelevant to the carrying out of her duties. In fact, it is a crime (misdemeanor) for a Clerk to refuse a marriage license to someone who is otherwise qualified. When asked if she has received any communication from the AG’s office regarding this case or same sex marriages, she testified that she and all of the Clerks throughout the State received an email on October 16, 2013 sent at 2:47 pm – the date and time set for the motion for summary disposition hearing in this case – from the AG’s office stating that even if the US District Court were to decide the marriage ban is unconstitutional, Clerks are instructed not to issue licenses. In the attached letter, bolded and underlined, it further stated: You are forbidden by Michigan Law to issue a license during an appeal. This email was followed up by a fax, a phone call and a letter sent by US post with similar content.
Ms. Brown stated that she does not report to the AG or to the Governor and would follow the Judge’s Order.
On cross, Ms. Nessel, attorney for the plaintiffs, asked if the Plaintiffs had applied for a license and had been turned down. The answer was yes. A series of questions then ensued about the circumstances of who can qualify for a license. There is no criminal background check, there is no requirement of the applicants to prove their ability or their intent to procreate, they do not have to prove parenting ability or show that children they have had previously are thriving, no inquiry into child abuse history, pedophilia, no check to see if there are outstanding warrants for unpaid child support, no inquiry into the stability of the couple’s relationship, inquiry into history of monogamy or intent to be monogamous, no question as to intent to engage in intercourse.
The only thing that they need is a driver’s license and a $20 application fee. There has never been a requirement to procreate, that the marriage will be stable, and that the future outcomes of the resulting children will have good outcomes in this life.
The AG had no cross examination questions of this witness.