Michigan to recognize 300 same-sex marriages performed last year

Wed Feb 4, 2015 4:46pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - Michigan will recognize about 300 same-sex marriages performed last year in the short window after a federal judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage and a U.S. appeals court put the decision on hold, Governor Rick Snyder said on Wednesday.

A federal judge in January ordered Michigan to recognize the marriages and the Republican governor said on Wednesday he would not appeal that ruling and noted that the U.S. Supreme Court would address the larger question later in 2015.

"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 in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled on Jan. 15 that the couples acquired a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution when they were wed even though a U.S. appeals court had reversed the original decision and upheld Michigan's law.

Goldsmith stayed his ruling for 21 days to give Michigan time to appeal. But the U.S. Supreme Court the following day agreed to decide whether states can ban gay marriage, taking up the Michigan case and those from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Same-sex marriage is legal in 36 states, plus the District of Columbia. Alabama could become the 37th state to allow gay couples to wed under a federal judge's ruling that would take effect on Monday.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Peter Cooney)

 
A gay pride flag is displayed on a 1948 Sixty-two series Cadillac during the Motor City Pride Parade in Detroit, June 8, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Lott