A federal court in Michigan ruled Tuesday it won’t allow state recognition of a gay man’s out-of-state marriage based on legal precedent established by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
U.S. District Judge Gordon Quist, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush, won’t lift the stay in a lawsuit seeking recognition of the marriage of Bruce Morgan and Brian Merucci, who live in East Grand Rapids, Mich., but wed in New York in 2013. Morgan suffers from brain cancer.
“While the Court is not unsympathetic to Plaintiffs’ circumstances in light of Plaintiff Morgan’s health status, the Court is nonetheless bound by the Sixth Circuit’s decision in DeBoer, which directly controls Plaintiffs’ claims and remains valid,” Quist said.
After Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder acceded to a judge’s ruling in another case, Caspar v. Snyder, which required recognition of the 300 “window” same-sex marriages performed over a weekend after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, the couple sought to lift the stay placed on their case in August 2014.
Snyder in a legal brief filed week opposed recognition of the couple’s marriage in Michigan on the basis that Caspar is non-precedential and factually distinguishable to the Morgan case.
In his order, Quist makes a similar conclusion the Caspar litigation had different principles at stake than the Morgan case.
“The Caspar court considered a discrete issue and the district court’s holding was very narrow,” Quist writes. “Plaintiffs in the instant case were married in New York before the brief window of time in which the Michigan marriages at issue in Caspar were performed. Caspar has no application to Plaintiffs’ claims.”
With the order handed down, the only possible relief for Morgan is a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court reversing the Sixth Circuit decision upholding Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. Oral arguments are set for Tuesday and a decision is likely by the end of June.