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US: Feds will recognize gay marriages performed in Michigan

Defying state governor, US attorney general says couples can seek federal benefits

US Attorney-General Eric Holder says the federal government will recognize the marriages of more than 300 gay couples performed in Michigan even if the state won’t. Credit: justice.gov

“I have determined that the same-sex marriages performed last Saturday in Michigan will be recognized by the federal government,” US Attorney-General Eric Holder announced March 28.

Holder’s announcement follows a statement by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in which he acknowledged the legality of the more than 300 gay marriages performed before a stay of a federal judge’s ruling but said the unions won’t be recognized by the state. That means that the rights that accrue to married couples are on hold until an appeals court stay of the ruling that struck down the state’s gay-marriage ban is lifted or the ruling issued by federal judge Bernard Friedman is upheld on appeal, Snyder told media.

The Obama administration’s decision to recognize the Michigan marriages is in keeping with a similar decision regarding gay marriages in Utah. There, the federal government said it would recognize the marriages of more than 1,300 couples wed in Utah between Dec 20 and Jan 6, when a stay of a ruling striking down gay marriage in that state was granted.

Referring to the Michigan case, Holder said, “These Michigan couples will not be asked to wait for further resolution in the courts before they may seek federal benefits to which they are entitled.”