More than 300 gay and lesbian couples in Michigan are legally married now that Governor Rick Snyder has decided not to contest a court order. It says the state has to recognize the marriages that took place last spring.
But, the state will continue to defend the same-sex marriage ban in a case before the US Supreme Court.
It was Snyder’s call whether the state would appeal after a federal judge ruled that more than 300 same-sex couples are legally married and told the state to treat them as married.
Here’s what he said after that decision last month: “If a federal judge has made a judgment, until that’s otherwise appealed, changed, or modified, we’ll respect what a federal judge is saying.”
He said, in a written statement, it would be best to simply recognize the marriages while the case plays out:
“The judge has determined that same-sex couples were legally married on that day, and we will follow the law and extend state marriage benefits to those couples.
“I appreciate that the larger question will be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court this year. This is an issue that has been divisive across our country. Our nation’s highest court will decide this issue. I know there are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and it’s vitally important for an expedient resolution that will allow people in Michigan, as well as other states, to move forward together on the other challenges we face.”
That was welcome news to Glenna DeJonge.
“I’m glad that the state has finally backed down and decided not to appeal,” she said. “There are real people and real issues, real faces behind this.”
DeJonge called her partner, her now-recognized wife, Marsha Caspar, at work with the news. And they made plans. Maybe a margarita to celebrate. And, in a day or two, hit the Secretary of State’s office to put their cars in both their names. Married couples get a break on their insurance rates.
DeJonge says she and Caspar tried that once already after they became the first same-sex couple to be married in Michigan last March.
“Funny enough, they asked if we were family and we said: Yes, we’re married, and gave them our marriage certificate. They said, nope, we can’t recognize that. “
For the newly-recognized married couples, the decision also means filing joint tax returns, maybe adopting children together, shared insurance benefits, and inheritance rights, says Jay Kaplan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Any state benefits, rights, responsibilities associated with a legal marriage, the state has to provide them, has to recognize that marriage.”
DeJonge and Caspar were married over a roughly 12-hour period on March 22nd last year, when four county clerks in Michigan opened their doors on a Saturday to conduct weddings for same-sex couples. That was right after a federal judge struck down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban but before the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put a stay on the decision.