Feds: Michigan Must Recognize Hundreds Of Same-Sex Marriages, But There’s A Catch

Michiganders rooting for same-sex marriages are on a roller coaster, and there’s no certainty of it stopping in the near future.

In a major victory for the approximately 300 same-sex couples married in Michigan last year, a U.S. District Court judge ruled on Thursday that the marriages of those few hundred couples that were performed during the short window of legality last year must be recognized by the state of Michigan. The ruling came from Judge Mark Goldsmith, according to the Detroit’s WXYZ News.

“Even though the court decision that required Michigan to allow same-sex couples to marry has now been reversed on appeal, the same-sex couples who married in Michigan during the brief period when such marriages were authorized acquired a status that state officials may not ignore absent some compelling interest — a constitutional hurdle that the defense does not even attempt to surmount. In these circumstances, what the state has joined together, it may not put asunder.”

Back in 2004, a popular vote added an amendment to Michigan’s state constitution that banned the recognition of same-sex marriages, even marriages performed out-of-state. In 2012, private lawyers, who were eventually joined by the ACLU and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, filed a federal lawsuit for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse naming Michigan’s Governor Snyder as a defendant on the lawsuit.

Same-sex couples rejoiced on March 21, 2014, when a federal ruling found in favor of DeBoer’s right to marry Rowse and found the addition to the constitution that banned same-sex marriages a violation of rights.

Promptly after that ruling, couples in Michigan were married in a hurry, but the celebrations were short lived. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request for a stay later that afternoon. No more marriages were performed.

Weeks later, the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were married during that emotional day last March.

“As a matter of law and fundamental fairness, the state is obligated to extend the protections that flow from marriage to all those who celebrated their weddings last month,” ACLU executive director Kary L. Moss said according to an ACLU press release. “Doing anything less treats legally married gay and lesbian couples like second-class citizens, and adds to the confusion and instability these loving families have endured.”

So, as all this was happening, around 300 couples in Michigan were in marriage limbo.

Then, a huge blow to Michigan’s same-sex couples came in November when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the DeBoer v. Snyder ruling that had been so celebrated among the LBGT-supporting community. As of the November ruling, Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages was upheld, and the Michigan Attorney General voided the 300 marriages, as the Inquisitr reported at the time.


Good news is again on the horizon for Michigan same-sex couples, though, because the most recent ruling states that Michigan must recognize the marriages that took place last March. Of course, there is still a catch for those couples in Michigan: No one can get too excited for another 21 days, because Judge Goldsmith gave Michigan the right to appeal his ruling.

Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a statement on the ruling.

“We are reviewing Judge Goldsmith’s decision but as I have said repeatedly, the sooner the United States Supreme Court makes a decision on this issue the better it will be for Michigan and America.”

Do you think it’s time for Michigan to recognize same-sex marriages once and for all?

[Photo via WikiCommons in public domain]