Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday his state would recognize an estimated 300 “window” same-sex marriages performed in the Wolverine State when gay nuptials were briefly legal there.
The announcement comes on the deadline for appealing a ruling from U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ordering Michigan to offer state benefits to these couples, who wed on the single day of March 22.
“The judge has determined that same-sex couples were legally married on that day, and we will follow the law and extend state marriage benefits to those couples,” Snyder said.
The estimated 300 couples wed in Michigan after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the state’s prohibition on gay nuptials. But the marriages lasted only for one day because the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay shortly afterward, stopping any further weddings from taking place.
The announcement marks a change in position for the state. In a legal brief filed before Goldsmith, Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette argued these marriages are now void because the Sixth Circuit ultimately decided to uphold Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Snyder makes the announcement after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed last week to take up the case seeking marriage equality in Michigan as well as similar lawsuits in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The expectation is justices will issue a nationwide ruling on the marriage issue by the end of June.
“I appreciate that the larger question will be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court this year,” Snyder said. “This is an issue that has been divisive across our country. Our nation’s highest court will decide this issue. I know there are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and it’s vitally important for an expedient resolution that will allow people in Michigan, as well as other states, to move forward together on the other challenges we face.”
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), who had called on Snyder not to appeal the decision ordering Michigan to recognize the “window” same-sex marriages, said the governor made the right decision.
“I am glad to see Governor Snyder finally decided that these loving, committed Michigan couples deserve full recognition under the law,” Kildee said. “Recognition for these same-sex couples is long overdue. Every Michigander should be able to marry the person they love, and I am confident that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down discriminatory same-sex marriage bans like Michigan’s in the coming months.”