U.S. government to recognize same-sex marriages in Michigan

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U.S._Attorney_General_Eric_Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

The U.S. government will recognize the more than 300 same-sex marriages couples entered into in Michigan before a federal appeals court brought the wedding march to a halt.

Earlier this month, a U.S. court ruled that Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. And the judge in the case did not issue a stay. That allowed county clerks to open offices on a Saturday and begin issuing to marriage licenses.

More than 300 couples married before an appeals court put a hold on the order so that the state could organize its appeal.

Afterward, the governor announced that the state would not recognize the marriages already entered into as valid.

But the federal government will, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder, in a statement released on March 28, said: "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."

Responding, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, said, "Last week 300 committed and loving same-sex couples were legally wed in Michigan. As such they deserve the recognition and treatment that all other married couples receive. Attorney General Eric Holder has once again demonstrated his steadfast commitment to equality and upholding the core values of the U.S. Constitution by affirming federal recognition of these marriages."