Thanks to a federal court ruling, more than 300 same-sex couples in Michigan were legally married last weekend. Thanks to a federal appeals court, Michigan’s old law has been temporarily restored and marriage equality in the state will have to wait.
But are those 300 couples with marriage licenses still legally married and entitled to all of the benefits therein? According to Michigan’s Republican governor, as far as state law is concerned, no. According to the U.S. Attorney General, as far as federal law is concerned, yes.
Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement today on the status of same-sex marriages performed in the state of Michigan:“I have determined that the same-sex marriages performed last Saturday in Michigan will be recognized by the federal government. These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages. The Governor of Michigan has made clear that the marriages that took place on Saturday were lawful and valid when entered into, although Michigan will not extend state rights and benefits tied to these marriages pending further legal proceedings. For purposes of federal law, as I announced in January with respect to similarly situated same-sex couples in Utah, these Michigan couples will not be asked to wait for further resolution in the courts before they may seek federal benefits to which they are entitled.”
Note that in January, there were very similar circumstances in Utah, and Eric Holder announced federal recognition of those couples, too.
Holder’s statement added, “Last June’s decision by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor was a victory for equal protection under the law and a historic step toward equality for all American families. The Department of Justice continues to work with its federal partners to implement this decision across the government. And we will remain steadfast in our commitment to realizing our country’s founding ideals of equality, opportunity, and justice for all.”
Now all of these couples need is for their state government to reach the same conclusion.