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Obama Administration to Recognize Michigan’s Same-Sex Marriages Despite State's Opposition

( [email protected] ) Mar 28, 2014 05:00 PM EDT
Obama Administration goes against a previous announcement by Michigan's Governor that proclaimed the marriages legal, but said the state would not recognize them "for now" because of the court's ruling to stop them.
US Gov

Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a statement Friday that the federal government will recognize about 300 same-sex marriages that were held in Michigan before a federal appeals court halted them.  This goes against a previous announcement by Michigan's Governor that proclaimed the marriages legal, but said the state would not recognize them "for now" because of the court's ruling to stop them.  

The decision means, as far as the federal government is concerned, these marriages are the same as any marriage. Regardless of the ruling of the court.

That means federal benefits for those couples, like the ability to file taxes jointly, recieve Social Security benefits or legal immigration status for spouses.

"These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages," Holder said in a statement.

The is not the first time the Obama Administration has injected itself into state-level same-sex marriage politics. In January, Holder did the same thing in Utah, where more than 1,000 same-sex couples got married, before the Supreme Court put those unions on hold  after a federal judge overturned the conservative state's same-sex marriage ban in December.Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan's gay marriage ban.

Michigan's Republican Governor had previously issued a statement calling the marriages legal, but said the state government would not recognize them because of the court's stay.  

Holder referenced Snyder's statement in his own statement on Friday, when he put the federal government in the opposite political position.

"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," he said. "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."

Seventeen other states and the nation's capital, issue licenses for same-sex marriages. Since late last year, bans on gay marriage have also been overturned by courts in Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia, but like Michigan, appeals have put those cases on hold.

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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.  

"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."

Source: justice.gov