Last year, nearly 300 same-sex couples took advantage of a one-day window of opportunity to legally marry in the state of Michigan. It was a joyous day which Anne and I documented with words and emotional photos HERE.
While the federal government via Attorney General Eric Holder quickly affirmed that the federal government would recognize the marriages as legal, the state of Michigan, led by Bigot-in-Chief Attorney General Bill Schuette, declared that it would not. A lawsuit ensued and AG Schuette along with Gov. Rick Snyder were slapped down by a federal judge last month. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith wrote:
The fundamental question in this case is whether officials of the State of Michigan are violating the United States Constitution by refusing to recognize the marital status of same-sex couples whose marriages were solemnized pursuant to Michigan marriage licenses issued in accordance with Michigan law in effect at the time of the marriages. This Court concludes that the continued legal validity of an individual’s marital status in such circumstances is a fundamental right comprehended within the liberty protected under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Even though the court decision that required Michigan to allow same-sex couples to marry has now been reversed on appeal, 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. In these circumstances, what the state has joined together, it may not put asunder.
Judge Goldsmith gave the state of Michigan 21 days to appeal his decision and, today, Gov. Snyder announced that he would not appeal.
I wish I could have seen the look on Bill Schuette’s and Gary Glenn’s faces.
This means that people like our friends and former Dexter, Michigan neighbors, Diane VanDorn and Connie Greer, can now feel like a legitimate family in the eyes of the law.
Diane VanDorn and Connie Greer
This is a not-insignificant thing for them. When Anne interviewed Diane and Connie last year – a truly emotional must-read interview with lots of great photos, by the way – she asked them why this was so important to them. They talked about security and legitimacy:
[After their marriage ceremony] Diane and Connie left the County Clerk’s office with their family and walked two and half blocks to a restaurant where they where they celebrated their wedding with family. They held hands all the way to the restaurant. Diane said that was the first time they had actually felt comfortable doing that. “But no one knew you were just married,” I said. “So why was this time different?” Diane said their legal marriage gave her a feeling of security and legitimacy.
Legal marriage offers couples the ability to enter into a state-created and legally secured bond of personal and economic significance. When a state decides to allow same-sex couples that same bond and security, they also do something much more significant: they offer those same-sex couples social confidence. I think Diane and Connie felt that confidence when they held hands and walked to the restaurant.
On behalf of all of us at Eclectablog, I congratulate Diane and Connie, and the hundreds of other Michigan same-sex couples who are now – finally – seen as legally married by the government of the state they live in. I wish this day had come far sooner and I wish it was for ALL same-sex couples. But, for now, we are overjoyed for what you have achieved.
And, one day soon, Michigan’s offensive and embarrassing ban on same-sex marriage will be consigned to the rubbish bin of history where it belongs and all of those who tried to keep it alive will be seen for the small-minded, ignorant, socially-retarded bigots that they are.