DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced this morning that they are filing a lawsuit to ensure that the marriages of the more than 300 same-sex couples that took place last month are recognized by the state. The lawsuit will be filed on behalf of couples who married after Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan’s ban on the freedom to marry as violating federal law and before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put the decision on hold.
Jay Kaplan, ACLU of Michigan LGBT Project Staff Attorney, will file the suit in federal court today. Frank Colasonti, Jr. and Jim Ryder of Birmingham, are one of the eight couples represented in the ACLU lawsuit. They were the first couple to marry March 22 at the Oakland County Courthouse, the day after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan’s marriage ban as unconstitutional. Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown performed the service.
Friedman did not include a stay in his March 21 decision, and for 24 hours same sex marriage was legal and recognized in Michigan, until Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was able to convince the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to issue a stay late the next day March 22. During that window of opportunity over 300 same-sex couples married legally at the courthouses in the four counties of Oakland, Washtenaw, Ingham and Muskegon.
Gov. Snyder said that while the marriages performed on March 22 were legal, the state would not recognize them while the courts were deciding the issue. This leaves couples in limbo regarding state benefits. The U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, announced that the federal government will be recognizing the marriages for federal purposes.