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Michigan Leaders React To Feds Recognition Of Marriages

By |2014-03-28T09:00:00-04:00March 28th, 2014|Marriage, News|

U.S. Attorney Eric Holder Jr. at the 50th Anniversary of the march on Washington and Martin Luther King’s Speech, August 24, 2013, Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. On March 28 Holder announced that the federal government would recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in Michigan last weekend. File photo Shutterstock.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday morning that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages legally conducted over the weekend.
“I have determined that the same-sex marriages performed last Saturday in Michigan will be recognized by the federal government,” Holder said in a written statement released by the White House and the Department of Justice. “These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.”
After acknowledging Gov. Rick Snyder had noted the marriages were legally conducted, but would not be recognized by the state, Holder’s statement continued, “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.”
Democratic candidate for Governor Mark Schauer responded immediately.
“Attorney General Holder made the right call by announcing that the federal government will recognize the same-sex marriages that were performed in Michigan last weekend. Now it’s time for Rick Snyder to get on the right side of history and stop wasting tax dollars to defend the state’s discriminatory ban on marriage equality.”
The marriages and licenses were issued in the 20 hour window that followed federal Judge Bernard Friedman striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, but before the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals issued a stay on the ruling. Because Friedman did not issue a stay, a legal action which freezes the impact of the ruling, county clerks were free to offer marriage licenses legally to same-sex couples. This was the first time in Michigan history same-sex couples could be legally married in Michigan.
“I applaud Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to extend federal recognition and benefits to the same-sex couples married in Michigan last Saturday. These couples were legally married and are entitled to the rights and protections afforded to all married people. It is extremely disappointing that we have a Governor who admits these marriages were legal, but would rather deny families their benefits while he wastes taxpayer dollars on a senseless appeal. I urge Governor Snyder to join the right side of history by immediately extending state benefits to all same-sex couples legally married in Michigan, ” said Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown who was able to issue and record 147 marriage licenses last Saturday.
The announcement comes less than a week after East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett and Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum sent a letter to Holder asking the federal government to recognize the marriages. Byrum and Triplett both conducted same-sex marriage ceremonies on Saturday. Ingham County was one of four counties to issue marriage licenses Saturday. The other three were Muskegon, Wastenaw and Oakland counties.
Byrum applauded Attorney General Eric Holder for declaring Michigan same-sex marriages eligible for federal benefits and ending unconstitutional discrimination against same-sex couples.
“While Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette continue to play politics and pander to the far-right, same-sex couples married last weekend will no longer face discrimination in the eyes of the federal government,” said Byrum. “For too long, these loving couples have been wrongfully denied the right to marry and the legal benefits that marriage provides. I commend Attorney General Eric Holder for doing the right thing and being on the right side of history.”
Triplett hailed the Attorney General’s announcement as well.
“Attorney General Holder made the right decision for these couples and for Michigan, in stark contrast to Governor Snyder and Bill Schuette. These couples were lawfully wed and they deserve all the rights and responsibilities that come with marriage,” Triplett said in an interview Friday morning.
Michigan’s Congressional Democrats sent a letter to Holder on Thursday asking that the federal government recognize the marriages. That move was orchestrated by Flint Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee.
“I applaud U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for recognizing the recent same-sex marriages performed in Michigan. Just yesterday, I, along with other Democratic members of Michigan’s congressional delegation, asked the federal government to recognize these recently performed marriages. Today’s recognition of these marriages by the federal government is welcome news. These legally married and loving couples shouldn’t have to wait any longer for the recognition and benefits they are entitled to under the U.S. Constitution,” Kildee said in a statement released on his website.” It’s my hope that Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette will also drop their appeals in this matter and recognize the inherent rights of these Michiganders to love and marry one another.”
Supporters of marriage equality were quick to hail the decision by Holder.
“Great news!” wrote State Rep. Andy Schor (D-Lansing) on his Facebook page following the announcement. “The Federal Government will recognize the same-sex marriages that were performed on Saturday. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that because the marriages are legal in Michigan, these couples will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits. 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. So now they are recognized as legal by the federal government but not the Michigan government. It would be nice to see Michigan recognize them as well. How can they be legal yet not legally recognized?”
“Same-sex couples shouldn’t have to rely on federal intervention to have their right to legal marriage recognized, but thanks to Republican Gov. Snyder that’s exactly what’s happening,” said Lon Johnson, Michigan Democratic Party Chair. “Gov. Snyder’s decision to deny equal treatment to these couples is offensive and ridiculous. Loving, committed same-sex couples have been denied equal protection for too long in Michigan. Our state needs leaders like Gary Peters and Mark Schauer, who will stand up for full equality for every Michigander.”
Liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan also praised Holder’s decision.
“We applaud U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that the United States government will recognize the marriages that were performed on Saturday,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Rather than trying to play both sides of the fence, Gov. Snyder should have stood on the side of equality and we hope this announcement will push him to follow the federal government’s lead on the issue. Gov. Snyder should not be wasting taxpayer money by continuing to deny equal rights to loving families.”
Michigan State AFL-CIO President Karla Swift reminded everyone it is still legal to fire and discriminate Michigan workers, “Governor Snyder has shown a shameful lack of leadership and basic human decency on this issue. Loving, committed couples should not have to wait through a costly and politically motivated appeals process in order to receive equal treatment in our state. Appallingly, it is still legal to fire or discriminate against Michigan workers based sexual orientation or gender identity. Even after same-sex marriage is fully recognized, the labor movement will continue to fight for fairness and equality all.”
State Senator Gretchen Whitmer said, “I applaud the U.S. Attorney General for stepping up where our own Governor won’t by recognizing the legal rights that Michigan’s same-sex married partners are owed. Apparently the Governor’s legal advice is as poor as the political advice he’s getting. As an attorney, the Governor should know that the vested rights of all of our people cannot be denied.
The only sad conclusion I can draw is that Governor Snyder is making a crass political calculation to appease the extreme wing of his party by continuing to deny rights. Despite what he claims, he’s just playing politics.”

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