Proponents of marriage equality received a welcome surprise
late Friday afternoon when federal district court Judge Bernard Friedman, a Reagan appointee, struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. What's more, the court ruling took effect immediately.
In practical terms, it meant same-sex couples could get legally married in Michigan, and many did exactly that. Though exact numbers aren't yet available, local reports suggest there were roughly 300 same-sex marriages in the Wolverine State on Friday night and Saturday morning.
That total would almost certainly have been much higher, had an appeals court not intervened
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, after first signaling it would not intervene in Michigan's gay marriage case until Tuesday, posted a new order late Saturday imposing a stay in the case until Wednesday. That means U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman's Friday order declaring unconstitutional Michigan's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is temporarily stayed, and clerks will no longer be able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples before Wednesday at the earliest.
On Wednesday, the 6th Circuit will reportedly decide whether to issue a longer injunction
, perhaps leaving the ban in place throughout the legal process, while it considers the appeal filed by Michigan's attorney general, Republican Bill Schuette.
The next question, of course, is what becomes of the same-sex marriages that were held between the district court ruling and the appeals court stay. As far as Michigan is concerned, what's the status of those 300 or so couples?
Michigan's Republican governor, Rick Snyder, doesn't seem to know what to do, exactly, though the state apparently isn't in any rush
to formally recognize the newly married same-sex couples.
Michigan state agencies won't immediately recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages that were performed in the hours before an appeals court put on hold a judge's ruling that tossed out a state ban on gay marriage, the governor's office said Sunday. "We are extremely sensitive to feelings on this issue and are hoping for a swift resolution for all involved," said Sara Wurfel, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder. [...] Asked if that would prevent, for example, a newlywed gay couple from applying for adoption of children on Monday, Wurfel said that Snyder and his administration consider everything to be on hold for now.
In an email yesterday to the Associated Press, the governor's spokesperson added, "We are not saying that we aren't or won't recognize the marriages that happened on Saturday, but that we're awaiting further court or legal direction on this complex, unusual situation."
We'll presumably know more in a few days.
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