Governor: Mich. won't yet recognize gay marriages

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Associated Press

Posted on March 24, 2014 at 8:32 AM

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan state agencies won't immediately recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages that were performed in the hours before an appeals court put on hold a judge's ruling that tossed out a state ban on gay marriage, the governor's office said Sunday.

About 300 couples wed Saturday in four Michigan counties before a federal appeals court placed a stay on a Detroit federal judge's decision overturning the state's 2004 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The decision blocks the state's county clerks from issuing new same-sex marriage licenses until the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to extend the stay. That's expected no sooner than Wednesday.

Until then, state agencies face the challenge of whether to recognize same-sex marriages performed Saturday.

"The governor and administration are not weighing in on these issues at this point," Snyder spokeswoman Sarah Wurfel told The Associated Press in an email Sunday afternoon.

Asked if that would prevent, for example, a newlywed gay couple from applying for adoption of children on Monday, Wurfel said that Snyder's office considers everything to be on hold for now.

"The order is stayed (at least until Wednesday)," Wurfel wrote in the email, and so the "issue is moot at this point until resolved."

Besides adoption, Snyder's policy could block those couples from applying for tax and other state benefits available to married couples in Michigan.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that a 2004 voter-approved amendment to the Michigan Constitution that limited marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the U.S. Constitution's right of equal protection under the law.

On Saturday, clerks in Ingham, Oakland, Muskegon and Washtenaw counties opened their doors and began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Michigan has 83 counties.

Later Saturday, the 6th Circuit froze the decision, saying the time-out will "allow a more reasoned consideration" of the state's request to stop same-sex marriages.

The appeals court acted on a request from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who defended Michigan's same-sex marriage ban against a challenge from two suburban-Detroit women seeking the right to adopt each other's children.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia issue licenses for same-sex marriage. Since December, bans on gay marriage also have been overturned in Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Virginia, but appeals have put those cases on hold.

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