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Same sex marriage has been a polarizing issue in American politics for a number of years. With divergent attitudes among the states, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, understanding how federal courts will decide complex legal issues involving same-sex couples and adoption remains unclear. In fact, Illinois same sex couples may be interested to learn about a recent decision made by a Michigan federal judge.

Last Thursday a federal judge in Michigan put off a decision on the constitutionality of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban until two same-sex marriage cases currently before the United States Supreme Court are decided. The decision effectively put a hold on a very serious family law case currently before the court. The case involves same sex partners that want joint custody of three children that the women adopted separately. Michigan instituted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2004.

The questions currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as many other lower courts, are about much more than politics. These debates are also about real life issues that effect real families on a day-to-day basis. For instance, true joint custody means that parents can share fully in both the physical and legal custody decisions regarding their children. Denying a couple that right, whether they are a same sex couple or a heterosexual couple, means that there are certain decisions and rights one parents is effectively denied.

Understanding how state laws and federal laws concerning same-sex marriage affect a same-sex couple’s legal rights can be difficult. Thus, it is important to speak with a qualified and experienced family law attorney when addressing such concerns. These issues are highly complex and highly volatile. Further, with so much litigation regarding the many legal issues involved in same sex marriage, including the federal and state constitutionality of same sex marriage bans, the laws are likely to change very quickly, meaning it will take experience to keep up with the law.

Source: USA Today, “Michigan judge delays decision on gay marriage ban,” John Wisely, March 7, 2013