Attorney General Responds to FOX 17’s Questions About Gay Marriage Motion

Posted at 6:34 PM, Mar 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-25 20:07:16-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich.  (March 25, 2014) — Attorney General Bill Schuette is making campaign stops across West Michigan, but there’s a cloud of controversy hanging over his re-election bid.

That’s because he’s being met by pro-gay marriage demonstrators after getting a federal judge to put a stay on a ruling which reversed the state’s ban on gay marriage.

We caught up with him as he began his day in Battle Creek at a Ford dealership where the owner hosted him.

Battle Creek, Mich.

He then traveled to Grand Rapids at Republican GOP headquarters for another campaign event on Lake Drive in Grand Rapids.

A group gathered outside Lakeview Ford on West Dickman Road in Battle Creek protesting Attorney General Bill Schuette for requesting that emergency stay on gay marriage which a federal appeals court granted in Cincinnati.

Some same sex couples were already married over the weekend, including about 50 couples in Muskegon County.

“My job is to defend the constitution,” said Schuette.

When asked if he thought marriage should just be between a man and a woman, Schuette first talked about the court making that decision, then after more questioning answered more on his personal feelings.

“I would encourage the Supreme Court to, in a prompt, thoughtful fashion, let’s make this decision, and that will be the law of the land,” said Schuette.

“I answered that question, I voted for the provision in 2004,” said Schuette, indicating he supported that marriage was between a man and a woman.

Schuette added, “But you know what….it doesn’t matter what it is. It really doesn’t matter what it is, whatever the constitution has contained in it. It’s the job of the attorney general to enforce it.”

Then, there’s the question of what will happen to those couples who married this weekend when some county clerks opened their doors to give out the new licenses as happened in Muskegon.

When asked if he was frustrated that some clerks handed out licenses over the weekend that allowed couples to get married before the stay was issued by the federal appeals court, he said, “Again, I’m going to let the courts sort that out and I haven’t at any time issued any advisory opinion as to what the county clerks should do and not do.”

Back in October, Schuette did appear to issue a warning to clerks instructing them not to issue licenses to a judge ordered stay.

His letter to each clerk in Michigan said, “you are forbidden by Michigan law from issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples during the pendency of the appeal.”

The letter went on to say that the judge’s ruling, “is not subject to enforcement while the decision is stayed.”

Although he used the word, “forbidden” in that letter, he maintains he was simply talking about the legal process.

“No, What I did in October, again, not to turn the page and go back, and sometimes memories can get dim for some, not you, but others, but the fact is in October, I issued a letter really talked about the legal process and that’s all I did. I’ve never issued any opinion, telling the clerks what to do, or what not to do.”

Some of the clerks we talked to previously indicated that they did feel they were being instructed in how to proceed at that time.

The letter only addressed the clerks in the event of a “stay”.

When the clerks passed out the licenses Saturday, no stay had been yet issued by the appeals court.