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BY AJ TRAGER
DETROIT – A Federal District court judge ruled on Jan. 15 that Michigan must respect the marriages of over 300 same-sex couples that were married in March 2014.
The case, Caspar v Snyder, was filed April 14, 2014 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan on behalf of eight same-sex couples who received marriage licenses during a window last March, when a federal judge struck down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban. The decision was stayed a day later but not before more than 300 couples were legally married in the state on March 22. Governor Rick Snyder said that the state would deny respect to the issued licenses even though the federal government said it would respect the rights of the newlywed couples.
Judge Goldsmith heard testimony on Aug. 21 when the state argued that the couples’ marriages would become invalid if higher courts, such as the 6th Circuit which ruled in favor of the state’s ban on Nov. 6, overturned the decision made by Judge Friedman in March.
In his ruling Goldsmith wrote, “The alleged harm of impaired human dignity and denial of at least some tangible benefits have already come about, thereby establishing that the factual record is sufficiently developed, such that there is no need to await future events for adjudication of the issues in this action. And delaying judicial resolution of these issues would serve no useful purpose. To the contrary, such delay would compound the harms these Plaintiffs suffer each day that their marital status remains unrecognized.”
Federal Court Judge Mark Goldsmith’s decision comes one day before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will hold a conference to decide whether to take up the issue of same-sex marriage. Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee all filed their request to be heard by SCOTUS directly after the 6th Circuit decision which created an appellate court split.
“Even though the court decision that required Michigan to allow same-sex couples to marry has now been reversed on appeal,” Goldsmith wrote. “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.”
Coalition Manager for Michigan for Marriage, Gina Calcagno, wrote on her twitter feed, “The ruling in Caspar sends a clear message, there is no good reason to deny #marriage to loving committed couples.”
Goldsmith issued a 21 day stay with his decision, allowing for the state to appeal.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette issued a statement after the ruling.
“We are reviewing Judge Goldsmith’s decision but as I have said repeatedly, the sooner the United States Supreme Court makes a decision on this issue the better it will be for Michigan and America,” he said.