Federal Judge Orders Michigan To Recognize 300 Same-Sex Marriages

Three hundred Michigan same-sex couples have a “fundamental right” for their marriages to be legal, a federal judge ruled after the state refused to recognize the unions.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith on Thursday ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, eight same-sex couples, in Caspar v. Snyder, saying Michigan's refusal to validate their marriages was unconstitutional.

Those 16 individuals and about 600 more were married in March when Michigan’s gay marriage ban was struck down. For one day, several county clerks were able to issue licenses to same-sex couples and perform wedding ceremonies before an appeals court stayed the ruling.

“The same-sex couples who married in Michigan during the brief period when such marriages were authorized acquired a status that state officials may not ignore absent some compelling interest -- a constitutional hurdle that the defense does not even attempt to surmount,” Goldsmith wrote in his decision. “In these circumstances, what the state has joined together, it may not put asunder.”

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette previously argued that the reversal on the gay marriage ruling “nullifies the district court’s decision completely, and it is as if the legal premise upon which Plaintiffs’ marriages are based never existed.”

The fate of gay marriage in Michigan for all other couples is still unclear, however. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld Michgan's ban in November. Now, LGBT advocates as well as supporters of the gay marriage ban are waiting on the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to announce soon whether it will hear Michigan's case.

Read the full Caspar v. Snyder ruling below.
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