ACLU Argues for Michigan to Recognize Legal Same-Sex Marriages

[Content Note: Homophobia.]

Because there are a number of states (including the state in which I live, Indiana) where same-sex couples have briefly been able to legally marry before rulings declaring state bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional have been stayed, this case in Michigan is very interesting:
A lawyer urged a judge Thursday to order Michigan to recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages performed during a brief window in March, saying the unions were valid even if a higher court eventually reinstates the state's ban on gay marriage.

"The state cannot mandatorily divorce you," University of Michigan law professor Julian Mortenson said during a 90-minute hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the state's gay marriage ban on March 21, and more than 300 same-sex couples in four counties got hitched the next day, Saturday, before an appeals court suspended the decision and blocked additional marriages.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati recently heard arguments about whether to overturn or affirm Friedman's decision. In the meantime, the American Civil Liberties Union is fighting to force the state to recognize the marriages that did happen for the purpose of benefits and other issues.

"States don't undo people's marriages … there are no laws to support this argument that the state is making, I think some would say it's probably political and it's unfortunate that you are playing politics with people's lives, with their families," said Jay Kaplan with the ACLU of Michigan.
There are a number of reasons that the marriages performed in these windows of opportunity be recognized now, or as soon as possible. There's no telling exactly when the Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, even though it's presumed to be soon, and there's no guarantee that the Court will find in favor of marriage equality.

These were legal marriages when they took place, and the people in them should have access to all the rights enjoyed by legally married people.

The state cannot mandatorily divorce you. Exactly right.

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