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BY BTL STAFF
DETROIT – Detroit minister Rev. Neil Patrick Carrick, who sued the state last January for the right to marry same-sex couples, wants a federal judge to determine whether it is legal under Michigan law for ministers and religious clergy to perform private religious marriage ceremonies for couples who don’t have a license.
Carrick is former pastor with the United Church of Christ and believes that a person has the right to be married “in the eyes of God” without the state issuing a license.
Mark Kollar, Carrick’s attorney, has said that older adults or widowed couples are particularly affected by current laws, afraid that they will lose their Social Security benefits if they were to remarry.
A 1957 Michigan law deemed civil contracts between two consenting people ill-fit in matters of the law and would not be recognized. Clergy who perform marriages without a license could be charged with a misdemeanor and face 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
U.S. Federal Judge Judy Levy will preside over the case and has asked for legal briefs to be filed by Jan. 8.