U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ.)
The federal government will recognize nearly 300 same-sex marriages performed in Michigan on March 22 after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban but before that order was stayed by an appeals court, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced today.
“These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages,” Holder said in a written statement that cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in last June in United States v. Windsor.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has made clear that the marriages were lawful and valid when entered, Holder said. But Snyder said the state will not extend state rights and benefits tied to these marriages pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Holder said that for federal law, however, “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.”
Holder made a similar announcement in January regarding same-sex couples in Utah who married there before an appeals court halted a trial judge’s ruling.
On March 21, U.S. District Senior Judge Bernard Friedman, echoing recent decisions by federal judges in Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah, found the Michigan ban violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Four counties granted licenses Saturday before the Sixth Circuit issued a temporary hold. The stay was extended indefinitely on Tuesday.