Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

March 27, 2014

Michigan won't recognize the weekend's same-sex marriages

LANSING (AP) — Michigan won’t recognize more than 300 same-sex marriages performed last weekend before a court halted a decision that opened the door to gay nuptials, Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday.

The announcement came a day after an appeals court indefinitely stopped any additional same-sex marriages. It will likely take months for the court to make its own judgment about whether a Michigan constitutional amendment that says marriage only is between a man and a woman violates the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the gay marriage ban Friday.

Four counties took the extraordinary step of granting licenses Saturday before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a temporary halt. The stay was extended indefinitely on Tuesday.

Snyder acknowledged same-sex couples “had a legal marriage.” But because of the court’s stay, he added, the gay marriage ban has been restored.

The governor’s move closes the door, at least for now, to certain benefits reserved solely for married couples. The American Civil Liberties Union said more than 1,000 Michigan laws are tied to marriage.

“We did our own homework and I believe this is a reasonable legal position to take based on the available literature and law,” Snyder told reporters.

Other elected officials have urged the Obama administration to recognize the marriages for federal benefits. The U.S. Justice Department, which previously said it was monitoring the situation, did not immediately comment after Snyder’s announcement.

Dana Nessel, an attorney for two Detroit-area nurses who successfully challenged the gay marriage ban, said Snyder’s position is “really an outrage.”

“I think each one of those couples should be furious right now, and I’m very hopeful that those couples will petition the court on their own behalf,” Nessel said.

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