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Michigan Governor Rick Snyder issues statement on same-sex marriages performed before appeals court stay

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Michigan state sealGovernor Rick Snyder issued a statement:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder issued the following statement today regarding marriage licenses distributed to same-sex couples in Michigan on Saturday, March 22:

“After comprehensive legal review of state law and all recent court rulings, we have concluded that same-sex couples were legally married at county clerk offices in the time period between U.S. District Judge Freidman’s ruling and the 6th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporary stay of that ruling.

“In accordance with the law, the U.S. Circuit Court’s stay has the effect of suspending the benefits of marriage until further court rulings are issued on this matter. The couples with certificates of marriage from Michigan courthouses last Saturday were legally married and the marriage was valid when entered into. Because the stay brings Michigan law on this issue back into effect, the rights tied to these marriages are suspended until the stay is lifted or Judge Friedman’s decision is upheld on appeal.”

In other words, the same-sex marriages that were performed after the district court’s ruling that struck down Michigan’s ban, but before the Sixth Circuit issued a stay, are legal marriages. Even so, Michigan won’t allow marriage rights to be given to those married couples because the ruling has been stayed pending appeal.

EqualityOnTrial is following this story and will provide updates as more information becomes available.

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


  • 1. Warren  |  March 26, 2014 at 11:41 am

    However, the Federal Government recognize these marriages and will extend every Federal Law to the fullest to these legally married couples. At least that is what the government did in Utah.

  • 2. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 26, 2014 at 11:48 am

    They did in Utah, and they've been asked to do so here. They haven't made a decision yet about MI.

  • 3. Ragavendran  |  March 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Now that Michigan explicitly agrees that the marriages were performed legally, there should be little doubt that the federal government, or other states that recognize out-of-state same sex marriages, will agree to recognize those marriages.

  • 4. Lynn E  |  March 26, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Is the Federal Government required to make a statement for each State? The Federal position, post-Windsor, is that a marriage will be honored if it was performed where legal, no matter the laws where the couple currently reside.

  • 5. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 26, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Arguably they should, because state governments in Utah and Michigan are making legal arguments that because stays were issued, it's questionable to recognize the marriages. If the federal government were to say, it's not questionable where we're concerned, I think that's a big deal.

  • 6. grod  |  March 26, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Scottie – do we by now the number of marriages that we performed. Could an effort be made to encourage those states which recognized the validity of Utah marriages to do the same – Was it 8 or 9?
    If other states did so, would that put pressure on the Feds, or if the Feds did so, would that encourage the right to remain married and recognized states. Might these couples file a class suit as was done in Utah?

  • 7. Eric  |  March 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    The stays are being issued without any explanation as to how they meet the typical standards for the issuance of a stay. The cowards in the judiciary won't be pressured by the actions of a few states..

  • 8. Dr. Z  |  March 26, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Obviously, the decision isn't final that we are actual bona fide human beings until the Supreme Court declares that we are.

  • 9. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    I've heard it's over 300 marriages. And I would certainly thing that other state AGs might want to say for the record that their states will recognize the marriages, since they did in Utah. There's no reason not to. I'm not sure if it would necessarily pressure the feds, simply because states have their own governments separate from the feds, but it would help if any couples have to travel or move.

    And a lawsuit could be filed, though I don't think there's been any announcement of one. Certainly they could do it just like the ACLU of Utah has done.

  • 10. Tim  |  March 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Looks like it's only a matter of time until the ACLU files their suit.

  • 11. Dean  |  March 26, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    What! That's the craziest thing ever! They admit that the marriages ARE legal but won't extend the provisions that go along with it? There's a another lawsuit right there!

  • 12. Matt N  |  March 26, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Well, not necessarily. Michigan never recognized marriages from anywhere else, so it would be just as weird if they recognized their own marriages but not any others.

  • 13. Schteve  |  March 30, 2014 at 2:31 am

    Yeah, as Matt said it's pretty consistent reasoning: they don't recognize *any valid same-sex marriages, regardless of where they were performed.

  • 14. Ragavendran  |  March 26, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Looks like the 6th Circuit, without directly saying so, is putting the appeals of Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee on the same track. When it set Michigan's briefing schedule yesterday in DeBoer v. Snyder, it also simultaneously set the exact same briefing schedule for Bourke v. Beshear and Tanco v. Haslam (Appellant brief due May 7, Appellee brief due June 9). If now, a motion is filed to officially group together these cases for purposes of judicial efficiency, ease of filing amicus/animus briefs, etc. it would likely be granted, similar to how the 10th Circuit coupled the Kitchen and Bishop cases. Of course, Michigan could be decoupled from this trio if the request to expedite that appeal is granted. In other 6th Circuit news, a motion to stay the Tennessee injunction, filed yesterday, is still pending before them and hasn't been decided on.

  • 15. Michael Grabow  |  March 26, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    This is a really good, quick read that will lift your spirits if you're feeling down about the stay.

  • 16. Ragavendran  |  March 26, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing! Very nice read. Loved the close:
    “Our eyes are not only on this marriage spring,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry and a longtime rights strategist. “Our eyes are on the marriage harvest.”

  • 17. Eric Koszyk  |  March 26, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    He needs to be voted out of office this November.

  • 18. Tim  |  March 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Trial date for Wisconsin marriage trial: 8/25/14

  • 19. Ragavendran  |  March 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Hopefully, the trial is rendered moot, as there is now a motion for summary judgment, filed on March 24, which could be heard as early as June. (Briefing on this motion is due to be completed by May 19.)

  • 20. Pat  |  March 26, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I had noted that there is a hearing on the plaintiffs motion for summary judgement 'tentatively' scheduled for March 27 (tomorrow!):

    Was that changed? It would seem odd indeed, since briefs are due April 14 and 24 (Wolf v. Walker case)

    Also: is it the same case which is mentioned in Tim's link above? That one doesn't seem to be targeting the marriage ban itself (from the article: "Lead plaintiffs in the case are Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf of Eau Claire, who are asking the court to force the state to recognize their out-of-state marriage")
    I'm confused…

  • 21. Terry  |  March 26, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Looks like it's a 4 day bench trial. As Raga said hopefully it's not needed.

    For your last paragraph, it looks like it's challenging the ban directly.

  • 22. Ragavendran  |  March 26, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    The motion for summary judgment was filed only two days ago, on March 24. The hearing which was scheduled for tomorrow was to be a hearing on the preliminary injunction motion, which was canceled on March 12, since that motion was withdrawn following the Judge's advice.

  • 23. Guest  |  March 26, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Jesus christ. Do you have nothing else to do with your time?

  • 24. bythesea  |  March 26, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    Why are are you harassing Ragavendran? Are you also downvoting his posts? "Do you have nothing else to do with your time?"

  • 25. FYoung  |  March 26, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Guest, whoever you are, you're abusing your welcome.

  • 26. Ragavendran  |  March 26, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    It's my birthday today and I'm in a really good mood, Guest! Thank you for your concern, though – I'll consider it your gift to me 🙂 And you know what else I've been doing with my time? Maintaining a calendar of notable federal ME case events since June 26, 2013. You're welcome to check it out:

  • 27. Tim  |  March 27, 2014 at 12:14 am

    Happy belated birthday. Your calendar is awesome. Thank you so much. I'm bookmarking.

  • 28. JayJonson  |  March 27, 2014 at 8:16 am

    Happy Birthday! And thank you for spending your time on our collective effort to advance justice or at least to understand the progress toward it.

  • 29. davep  |  March 27, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Very classy response, Regavendran. That brought a smile to my face. And a belated Happy Birthday to you!

  • 30. bythesea  |  March 27, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Happy birthday!

  • 31. Tim  |  March 26, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Puerto Rico marriage suit filed;

  • 32. Pat  |  March 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Is the case only asking for recognotion of out-of-state marriages, or for marriage equality itself? it's a little ambiguous in the article

  • 33. Sean from NJ  |  March 26, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Sounds like both to me:

    "The suit filed Tuesday by attorney Ada Conde challenges the constitutionality of Puerto Rican laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman, as well as those that prohibit same-sex marriage and the recognition of such marriages."

  • 34. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 26, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    "The suit filed Tuesday by attorney Ada Conde challenges the constitutionality of Puerto Rican laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman, as well as those that prohibit same-sex marriage and the recognition of such marriages."
    (3rd paragraph.)

    Not very ambiguous to me. Looks like she is challenging the entire gamut of anti-GLBT laws in Puerto Rico.

  • 35. Richard Weatherwax  |  March 26, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Pure doubletalk: The state admits that the marriages are legal, but the state will treat them as if they are not legal. Does the governor really have the authority to do that?

  • 36. Andrew  |  March 26, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    No he does not have the authority. Only the courts have the authority to make a determination of whether those marriages are legal. The test will be whether they were legally issued. If the lower court ruling is overturned in the appeal, they won't be legal and the Federal government won't be able to recognize them. However, the case will not be overturned, as is the view of every judge that has looked at these cases since DOMA. One thing is certain, of the future of these cases, Its that DOMA makes it impossible for States not to recognize gay marriages from other states. At the least, the governors statement of recognition would have the effect of saying they will recognize legal marriages from other states, but not legal marriages from our own state. Hopefully the courts will see the practical implications of saying states have to recognize legal marriages from other states and see that DOMA must then be assumed to lead to a legal reasoning that all states must allow gays to be married in their own state. There is no other road forward that does not lead to an absurd reality. In law, outcomes that lead to absurd realities are a basis judges to add additional inferences into a the law, (or into the Supreme Court's DOMA holding) that are not explicitly mentioned in the existing law.

    Even in Utah, if Utah ultimately wins, the Federal government would loose in a court case challenging their willingness to recognize marriages that were performed there before the Supreme court stayed the lower courts ruling pending appeal.

  • 37. Andrew  |  March 26, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    To clarify what I wrote, I see DOMA as easily meaning states must recognize marriages from other states, just as the DOMA says the Feds must. DOMA is silent on whether states have to issue gay marriages themselves. However, both 1) the justification the Supreme Court used in its ruling and 2) the practical effects of states not having to issue marriage licenses while accepting other out-of state marriages, are together the two outcomes that create absurd outcomes. Even though the governor does not have the authority to say the 300 marriages are legal, if this were the case, it would be even more absurd when held up to the reasoning in DOMA. Its blatant discrimination between people from different states (against its own citizens), we don't even have to get to the question of whether its discriminatory among gay and straight citizens. The Michigan governors own statement creates that unique discrimination where it didn't recognize before the statement and where it doesn't exist in Utah because Utah is not saying it ever issued marriages licenses that were legal. Utah is arguing its issued licenses are void because they were never legal.

  • 38. Jack  |  March 27, 2014 at 5:08 am

    I assume when you say DOMA here you are meaning the SCOTUS ruling on DOMA, not the original law itself. That, of course, says the opposite, which is why Windsor was so important. Now we need to get section 2 of DOMA overturned, too.

  • 39. Schteve  |  March 30, 2014 at 2:40 am

    It's not really a novel argument. Michigan has never recognized valid same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Snyder is giving his opinion that the state will continue to not recognize any valid same-sex marriage, even if it was performed in Michigan, because the amendment banning such recognition is now back in effect.

  • 40. SPQRobin  |  March 26, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Unrelated news: Slovakia is about to amend its Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

    That's bad in itself, but it's quite crazy: the ruling party Smer-SD (a "social democratic" party!!) has an absolute majority in parliament but needs 2/3 for constitutional amendments. In exchange for the opposition's support for an amendment related to the judiciary system, they agreed to constitutionally define marriage. It passed 103-5 in first reading. Smer-SD previously voted against introducing registered partnerships.

  • 41. Ragavendran  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    A small bit of news from Alaska about a not-so-direct marriage-related lawsuit, Harris v. Millennium Hotel. Briefing was completed last month, and the Alaska Supreme Court has set a date for oral argument in this case – May 13, 2014. A decision in this case, probably expected by Fall, could be appealed to the US Supreme Court (federal questions are raised).

    The case number is S15230 and you can look up the information on the Court's website:

  • 42. Mimi  |  March 27, 2014 at 3:54 am


    I'm sorry if this is not related but like, I'm writing an essay about marriage equality in school and I need to find like, a website that can show me what states have like, lawsuits in the courts? Like, if anyone can point me to a website that has all the latest information with all the lawsuits, I would super appreciate it!

    Lots of love,
    Mimi x

  • 43. Guest  |  March 27, 2014 at 4:17 am

    Like, was that, like, a joke?

  • 44. Mimi  |  March 27, 2014 at 4:26 am

    No, sorry if it came out like that.

  • 45. FYoung  |  March 27, 2014 at 4:55 am

    You can look here:

    There are other calendars available online, but I don't have links, apart from:

  • 46. Mimi  |  March 27, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Omg, thank you.

  • 47. Guest  |  March 27, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Or this map

    Or this table:

  • 48. Ragavendran  |  March 27, 2014 at 8:40 am

    See also:

  • 49. Equality On TrialACLU of &hellip  |  March 27, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    […] governor’s office issued a statement this week clarifying that the marriages performed while the district court order was in place are […]

  • 50. Mich. Suspends Rights of &hellip  |  March 27, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    […] several days of avoiding the issue of the legality of those unions, Gov. Rick Snyder saidWednesday that the same-sex marriages performed Saturday are indeed legal, but that the […]

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