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Michigan Officials Ask US Attorney General to Recognize State's Same-Sex Marriages

Mar 25, 2014

US Attorney General Eric Holder is being asked to weigh in on Michigan's same-sex marriages
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons
  US Attorney General Eric Holder has been asked to declare that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages performed in Michigan over the weekend, even if the state won’t. 

 Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is waiting for more legal guidance or a court decision before the state will recognize roughly 300 same-sex marriages performed Saturday – before that was halted by a temporary stay from the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals

A statement from his office says: “The Governor and administration are not weighing in on these issues at this point.  The order has been stayed and it’s under the courts and judicial process. We’re awaiting court or legal direction on this complex, unusual situation. We're sensitive to feelings on this issue and are hoping for a swift resolution for all involved.”

That’s not good enough for opponents of the same-sex marriage ban.

“Unfortunately, Governor Snyder has already said he will not allow state departments to recognize the validity of these marriages, but that doesn’t mean that the federal government can’t recognize them, which will extend potentially a thousand rights and responsibilities to these couples that entered into lawful marriages on Saturday,” said East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett, who performed some of the weddings. 

“The attorney general weighing in and saying, “we recognize the validity of these marriages’ would give these couples some certainty on their legal status, at least from the federal perspective.”  

Triplett says that includes allowing these couples to, for the first time, file joint federal tax returns. 

Triplett and Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum sent a letter yesterday to US Attorney General Eric Holder. A US Justice Department spokeswoman says the request is under review. But Holder did grant a similar request regarding same-sex marriages performed during a 17-day window in Utah before they were halted by a court order. 

 Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says he does not have an official position on whether the marriages should be recognized. 

“My position is the courts are going to have to sort that out,” he told The Detroit News during a tour to announce his intentions to seek a second term. 

Attorneys representing April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the lesbian couple from Hazel Park that challenged the ban, have until noon today to file their arguments explaining why the 6th Circuit should lift its stay, and allow more same-sex marriages in Michigan.