Former high-ranking Republicans in the Michigan Legislature are urging a federal appeals court to allow gay marriage in the state.

They filed a brief yesterday at the Cincinnati-based court, urging it to affirm a March decision that threw out Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage. The Republicans include former House Speaker Rick Johnson and former House Majority Leader Chris Ward. Former U.S. Rep. John ``Joe'' Schwartz has signed on, along with former state lawmakers Leon Drolet, Doug Hart, Dave Honigman and Susan Grimes Gilbert.

They say denying marriage to same-sex couples runs counter to strengthening families. They say it's a conservative position to take. The appeals court plans to hear arguments on Aug. 6.

Attorney General Bill Schuette is appealing a decision that declared Michigan's ban unconstitutional.