Photo by Anne C. Savage, special to Eclectablog
The nearly 300 same-sex couples who were married last Saturday in Michigan will have their marriages recognized by the federal government. The Snyder administration has said that they will NOT recognize them or give the couples the benefits afforded heterosexual married couples even though they believe the marriages are legal.
The U.S. government will recognize about 300 same sex marriages that were performed in Michigan on Saturday before a federal appeals court issued a stay blocking further marriages pending a full review.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday the Justice Department has decided the couples are entitled to all federal benefits that other married couples receive. In January, he issued the same decision for about 1,300 same sex couples in Utah that were married during a 17-day window before the U.S. Supreme Court put a district court judge’s ruling on hold until further appeals are considered.
“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,” Holder said. “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.”
The decision comes after Congressional Democrats from Michigan called upon the Justice Department to recognize the marriages yesterday. U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, and U.S. Reps. Sander Levin, Gary Peters, Dan Kildee and John Dingell all signed a letter with the request to Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Snyder administration claims that they are unable to legally recognize the marriages after the Sixth District Court Court of Appeals stayed federal District Court Judge Bernard Friedman’s overturning of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. Governor Snyder and state Attorney General Bill Schuette are now in the awkward and completely unnecessary position of defending their decision despite the fact that the federal government has made it clear that they are wrong. The stay on Friedman’s decision does NOT require them to relegate these nearly 300 couples to secondary citizen status as they claim it does.
Do the right thing, Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette. The world is watching and YOU are on the wrong side of both the law and of history.