In a five-page brief dated April 16 and submitted to the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Michigan, Snyder argues Michigan shouldn’t be required to recognize the marriage of Bruce Morgan, an East Grand Rapids, Mich., resident who’s suffering from brain cancer and married his partner, Brian Merucci in New York in 2013.
A federal court had struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage in March 2014, but the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, upholding the state’s prohibition on gay nuptials. That case is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Snyder had acceded to another court ruling requiring Michigan to recognize the marriages of around 300 same-sex couples who wed during a “window” period after the initial court ruling, but before the Sixth Circuit placed a stay on the weddings. But the governor says the decision in that lawsuit, Caspar v. Snyder, isn’t enough for the court to grant state recognition of Morgan’s marriage.
“The only circumstance cited by Plaintiffs not previously considered by this Court is the decision in Caspar,” Snyder said. “But Caspar is non-precedential and factually distinguishable. Consequently, the legal and factual landscapes relevant to staying this case remain the same as they did when this Court issued the stay, and Plaintiffs’ motion should be denied.”
The lawsuit, Morgan v. Snyder, was filed by private attorneys on behalf of the couple in June 2014, but the case was stayed in August as marriage litigation was pending before the Sixth Circuit. Earlier this month, the plaintiff couple sought a relief from the stay in the aftermath of the decision in the Caspar case.