Michigan Governor Says State Won’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said March 26, 2014, that he would rather talk about jobs and the economy than his views on same-sex marriage. (PHOTO CREDIT: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said March 26, 2014, that he would rather talk about jobs and the economy than his views on same-sex marriage. (PHOTO CREDIT: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

Michigan’s governor said the nearly 300 same-sex marriages performed Saturday in the state are legal, but Michigan won’t recognize them because of a stay put on a judicial decision that would allow for the unions.

“With respect to the marriages, we believe those are legal and valid marriages,” Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday. “The stay being issued makes it more complicated.

“Because of the stay, we won’t recognize the benefits of the marriage until there’s a removal of the stay,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to provide some clarity, at least from our perspective, relatively soon.”

Supporters of same-sex marriage liked that the governor said their marriages are legal but were dismayed that they won’t be able to derive any benefits, such as adoption rights and filing of joint income tax returns, from the state.

About 300 same-sex couples got married early Saturday in four Michigan counties after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman on Friday struck down a 2004 state constitutional amendment that says marriage is between a man and a woman. But judges at the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay of the ruling the next day and later extended the pause indefinitely.

The appeals court could take months to affirm or reject Friedman’s opinion. Next year, the Supreme Court is expected to deal with the issue.

Snyder acknowledged that the issue of same-sex marriage and benefits is confusing and difficult to navigate. His staffers called state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office for legal guidance but ended up doing their own research.

His announcement drew the prospect of legal action against the state as well as swift criticism from Democrats and advocates for gay marriage.

“You can’t have it both ways!” state Rep. Kate Segal, a Democrat from Battle Creek, Mich., tweeted.

The only tweet from the governor’s Twitter account, @onetoughnerd, mentioned that same-sex couples wed March 22 were legally married, not that he would keep benefits and rights of marriage from them. A link to a three-paragraph press release provided the details.

“The statement by the governor is extremely confusing for those of us who are legally married but not legally recognized by the state of Michigan,” said Frank Colasonti, 61. The Birmingham, Mich., resident married his longtime partner Saturday. “It’s a political statement.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Detroit Free Press
Paul Egan and Kathleen Gray

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