The federal government will recognize roughly 300 same-sex marriages performed in Michigan last weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday, even though the state will not.
"I have determined that the same-sex marriages performed last Saturday in Michigan will be recognized by the federal government,” Holder said in a statement. “These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.”
Friday’s announcement came two days after Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder declared his administration would not be honoring the same-sex marriages that took place during a brief window after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on such unions, and before an appeals court reinstated it.
Holder took similar action last January, announcing that the federal government would recognize more than 1,000 gay marriages performed in Utah before the U.S. Supreme Court put that state’s ban back in place.
Approximately 300 same-sex couples received marriage licenses on Saturday in Michigan, hours after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman invalidated the state's 2004 voter-approved amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals abruptly halted additional same-sex nuptials from taking place by issuing a temporary stay on the effects of Friedman’s ruling. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit moved to extend that hold until the appeals process plays out.
The Human Rights Campaign released a statement on Friday applauding Holder’s decision. “Last week 300 committed and loving same-sex couples were legally wed in Michigan. As such they deserve the recognition and treatment that all other married couples receive. Attorney General Eric Holder has once again demonstrated his steadfast commitment to equality and upholding the core values of the U.S. Constitution by affirming federal recognition of these marriages.”