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Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder puts recognition of same-sex marriages performed over the weekend on hold

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Michigan state sealState officials in Michigan have decided to put on hold recognition of same-sex marriages performed over the weekend after a federal district court judge struck down the state’s marriage ban last week.

The district court judge, a Reagan appointee, decided not to stay his decision. State officials went directly to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, filing their notice of appeal and a request for a stay of the injunction until the case is resolved. Meanwhile, several county clerks in Michigan opted to open their offices and allow same-sex couples to marry; reports suggest about 300 couples got married on Saturday. The Sixth Circuit initially asked for a response from the plaintiffs by Tuesday, March 25, before coming to a decision on the stay request; however, they reversed course over an hour later and temporarily halted marriages after those 300 were performed, pending their decision on the state’s request for a stay.

It’s those marriages that will now be on hold. Governor Snyder’s office insists that the decision doesn’t mean the state will not recognize the marriages:

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.

“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,” Wurfel told The Associated Press in an email Sunday.

“Either way, this can’t be construed one way or another as not recognizing the validity of the same sex marriages.”

The Detroit Free Press has more comments from the governor’s office:

“The governor and administration are not weighing in on these issues at this point,” Wurfel told the Free Press. The issue is “currently under the courts and judicial process,” and “we await that direction.”

Asked what direction state and local officials are being given in cases in which same-sex couples seek to immediatly assert marital rights on issues such as adoption or spousal benefits, Wurfel said such claims take time to process and the Snyder administration considers such issues on temporary hold, pending further direction from the courts.

Some legal experts say the state should immediately say how it plans to treat the same-sex marriages, noting too many couples are in legal limbo and deserve to know where they stand.

The Ingham County Clerk, Barb Byrum, and East Lansing’s mayor, Nathan Triplett, have sent a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to declare the 300 marriages legally valid for purposes of federal recognition.

The situation is similar to the one in Utah. After the district court struck down that state’s same-sex marriage ban, couples continued to get married until the Supreme Court issued a stay. State officials put same-sex marriage recognition “on hold” in the state. The ACLU of Utah sued to have the state recognize those marriages, and that case is pending. Attorney General Eric Holder has declared previously that the Utah marriages will be recognized by the federal government.

The Michigan case is now in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, awaiting review. A decision on the stay request is expected tomorrow.

With the Michigan appeal, every state that is within the Sixth Circuit now has a same-sex marriage case pending in that appeals court.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin and Equality Case Files for the Scribd filing of the letter

For more information on DeBoer v. Snyder from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.


  • 1. Steve  |  March 24, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Get ready for fake concern about the situation those couples are in.

  • 2. davep  |  March 24, 2014 at 9:46 am

    ….yeah… because the people who supports equal legal protections for same sex couples and their children are really secretly in favor of harmful discrimination aimed at these families, like you are, and are not really concerned about these families being treated as equal citizens… your comment is pointless.

  • 3. Steve  |  March 24, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Fake concern from the politicians….

    They said so in other states. Something like "We really want to prevent confusion and uncertainty, so we'll not recognize their marriages. This is all done with their best interest in mind"

  • 4. davep  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Ah, got it. My apologies, Steve! I thought the comment was from a troll, aimed at all of the comments from participants here in this site that would be posted under this article. Oops. I'm perhaps a bit 'quick on the draw' today.

  • 5. Pat  |  March 24, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Lol, you pulled a Mike, here!

  • 6. davep  |  March 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    : ) Doh!!

  • 7. Rakihi  |  March 24, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I think perhaps Steve meant the state would insincerely claim that it was concerned that if it recognized the couples' marriages now and later withdrew recognition if it won the case (like that's going to happen, ha!) then the effect on the couples would be worse than if the state denied recognition from the beginning.

  • 8. davep  |  March 24, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I would love to hear the convoluted explanation from the state to explain how 'putting the recognition of the marriages on hold' is anything other than 'not recognizing them'.

    And it would be really interesting to hear them explain on exactly what legal basis they can just decide to not recognize (or 'put recognition on hold') these marriages, which were entered into under a completely legal basis, no different from any other legally recognized civil marriages.

  • 9. Guest  |  March 24, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Personally I've had enough of Christian Inc. and their pathetic lies. It is quite disgusting that these religious zealots continue to have control over our private lives, and yet, they've never lost anything for their actions. They're so deserving of retribution.

  • 10. Eric  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Based on the demographic data, they've lost their children.

  • 11. JimT  |  March 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I'm also getting real tired of Christian Inc. Here in Georgia a few big baptist churches are flying banners putting out signs proclaiming "Real Family" "Real Faith" "Real Traditions." I think that may be a snub to some other churches who have started "evolving" towards being more inclusive and accepting.

    And in some public places I am hearing people say "have a blessed day." I've heard those words 4 times in the last couple of months, once on the phone from an employee at my doctor's office the other 3 times in grocery store check out lines.

  • 12. Reformed  |  March 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I wonder if these churches are IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist). If so, they might be "associated" with this place (see link), or that "other place" (Bob Jones University, which is currently under fire for allegations that they mishandled abuse reports) .

  • 13. Michael Grabow  |  March 25, 2014 at 8:11 am

    I want to simultaneously bash my head into a wall and cry reading this. I just don't understand human beings.

  • 14. Chrys  |  March 24, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I don't really have any problems with being told to "Have a blessed day". I generally respond with "Blessed Be", which amuses me and generally confuses them. Life's too short to get upset about a sincerely expressed wish to have blessings in it.

  • 15. Vernon  |  March 24, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Sorry that was supposed to be a plus

  • 16. Dr. Z  |  March 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    So they can complete their "studies" on us, of course. Forty or fifty years should suffice for data collection. Analysis could take a bit longer.

  • 17. Steve  |  March 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Though to study the effects of same sex marriage they have to legalize it first. And even if it's just for a few hundred couples.

  • 18. Reformed  |  March 24, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Also goes to the "traditional" argument. Were not couples of the marriage equality variety DOD (dead on disclosure) historically or "traditionally" so to speak. Not an anthropologist, so I could be mistaken. In order for something to be traditional, doesn't that their have to at least be the possibility of a "non traditional" alternative? One that doesn't involve getting clubbed, gassed, or tied to a fence depending on the era?

  • 19. Schteve  |  March 26, 2014 at 3:14 am

    The legal basis they'll claim will be the same one Utah is asserting and that Ken Starr made in Strauss v. Horton: that the marriages themselves may be valid, but that the state need not recognize them while the injunction is stayed (similar to how any other state with a ban would not recognize them). The federal government and states with same-sex marriage are free to recognize them since they are indeed valid marriages.

    Ignoring the fact that the bans are unconstitutional to begin with, it's an interesting argument since the state is the one that issued the license to begin with, and it would be weird for a state to not recognize its own valid marriages. I don't think this will have to be ultimately resolved anyway since I think the bans will be struck down first.

  • 20. Eric  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Putting fundamental rights "on hold" is no different than not recognizing them. What other fundamental rights does the governor plan to put on hold?

  • 21. Chris M.  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:11 am

    This is more insidious than outright declining to recognize those marriages. If the state, for instance, turned down a newly married couple for a joint adoption, they can sue. But if it just sits 'on hold' in the inbox forever, it's much harder to take legal action.

  • 22. weaverbear  |  March 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    While I'm grateful for Judge Friedman's ruling AND that he chose not to stay it, there's still a part of me that's unhappy with the need for couples to be wearing track shoes so they can hit the ground running for the nearest county clerk's office to be able to get married, lest they miss the window before another judge red lights things.

    When we got married during the summer of 2008 here in California, we had the window that was created by prop 8 going on to the ballot. My husband and I would have liked a wedding under our denomination's auspices, but the the way our faith does things, we realized we would have been bumping right up against the election and not knowing how it would go, we went ahead and just got married. We put together a wedding in under three weeks with 60 guests and a small reception thereafter. Nothing elaborate, but after all was said and done, I did understand why some people just choose to elope. However, for them, it's a choice, and not a necessity, because their right to marry is secure, and not as it was for us, transitory.

    On the morning of our 27th anniversary, in the presence of our family and friends we finally said, "with this ring, I thee wed." We got to celebrate our marriage with the people important to us, just like any other couple that marries. We got to experience the power of what it means to make a formal public commitment to one another, just like every other couple that marries. The words of support from all that were there with us that day, still echo in my head and my heart.

    The act of getting married remains a political act for our community. It's an assertion of our civil rights, but it's so much more than that. I'd said no the first time my husband asked me to marry him. That came after 14 years together. "It has no basis in law," I said, "Why bother? Besides, if we're first getting married now, what were the last 14 years?"

    The day the weddings actually started, I turned and asked him, "Do you still want to get married?" His response? "I thought you'd never ask. Yes!" I didn't think I could love him any more than I already did. I was wrong. The act of getting married, of saying "I do", has only served to strengthen our bond and I think our connection to our larger community that stood with us in support.

  • 23. Mackenzie  |  March 24, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I hope the 6th Circuit addresses the State's decision to put on hold marriages that were legally conducted. They are obviously trying to stifle a Utah 2.0 but the outcome should be no different.

  • 24. Equality On TrialFederal &hellip  |  March 28, 2014 at 8:09 am

    […] the marriages. The federal government’s decision to recognize the marriages, along with the state’s determination that they were performed legally (but won’t be recognized by the state until the appeal is […]

  • 25. Equality On TrialACLU of &hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 12:59 am

    […] Michigan is considering challenging the state’s decision to put recognition of the marriages “on hold” pending the Sixth Circuit […]

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