Tie the Knot . . .

After a district judge strikes down Michigan’s ban on gay marriage a stay was placed on ruling by the Attorney General postponing gay couple’s ability to get married.

On March 21, 2014, in the midst of record breaking snowfalls and a polar vortex, a 10-year ban was momentarily lifted for same-sex couples in the state of Michigan by U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman; their right to get married and adopt children together becoming a reality. But, just 22 hours later, a stay was issued on the case.

“Judge Friedman’s decision meant that same-sex couples could marry in Michigan and that Michigan had to recognize marriages between same-sex couples granted in other jurisdictions,” Jay Kaplan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said. “A stay wasn’t issued until about 22 hours after the opinion came out, so during that period same-sex couples could marry and those marriages that occurred before the stay are legal and should be recognized by the state for purposes of state benefits.”

The stay placed on the lower court ruling was issued by Attorney General Bill Schuette through the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. It means that the ruling to lift the previous 2004 ban, which passed with a 58.6 percent vote, has been temporarily revoked. Although, marriages that took place between same-sex couples within the 22 hours are considered fully legal.

“A stay was issued on that decision from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals while the State appeals the decision,” Kaplan said. “That means that the effect of the decision was put on ‘hold.’ The stay from the Sixth Circuit can last as long it takes for the Sixth Circuit to issue a decision on the appeal; it’s difficult to predict how long that will take.”

Along with the stay on the case, Governor Rick Snyder came out publicly on March 26 and said the state would not recognize the more than 300 same-sex couples that were legally married during the 22 hours before the stay, so they will not receive the same state benefits as heterosexual couples.

“We [the ACLU] filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were legally married in Michigan on March 22,” Kaplan said. “But because of Snyder’s statement, they cannot access state benefits associated with a legal marriage. We are requesting a declaratory judgment from the court that the governor’s actions were unconstitutional. We are also going to be requesting a preliminary injunction- asking the court to stop the State from refusing to recognize these marriages.”

On March 28, the 82nd Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder, stated that the federal government will recognize the over 300 same-sex marriages, despite the state’s decision to not recognize the unions. This means that while the couples will not receive state benefits, they will receive federal benefits from the government.

At time of press, the stay on the case was still in place and offices of General Attorney Bill Schuette and Governor Rick Snyder did not get back to us with comments.



The following states have legal same sex marriage: California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, Maryland, Washington