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Michigan sued by civil rights group for not recognizing gay marriages

Michigan sued by civil rights group for not recognizing gay marriages

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit Monday (14 April) to guarantee that the marriages of 300 same-sex couples performed in Michigan last month are recognized by the state.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were married after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban and before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put the decision on hold.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said the state would not recognize the marriages while there was a legal stay on the 21 March ruling by Judge Bernard Friedman. But US Attorney General Eric Holder said the marriages will be recognized by the federal government.

The ACLU states that Snyder’s refusal to recognize the marriages precludes the couples from enjoying the many benefits of marriage in Michigan including providing health insurance to spouses, jointly adopting children, and ensuring the financial stability of their families.

The lawsuit argues that once couples are legally married in Michigan, they gain protections that cannot be taken away retroactively.

Among the eight couples named as plaintiffs in the ACLU suit are Jared Haddock and James Anteau who met 16 years ago and never thought they would have the opportunity to get married. 

They jumped at the chance after the judge’s ruling last month when four county clerks opened their offices to issue marriage licenses on 22 March.

Now they are hunkering down for a new legal battle.

‘From a personal standpoint, I became a lawyer to stand for justice so to see the law and the Constitution trampled on in this way is a slap in the face,’ says Haddock. ‘It’s trying to take away the legitimacy from something that seems very clear and is very important to me.’