Marriages in Limbo For Same-Sex Michigan Newlyweds

| by Allison Geller

The marriages of about 300 Michigan gay couples are in limbo after an appeals court put a hold on a judge’s ruling to strike down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s office said Sunday that Michigan state agencies won’t immediately recognize the marriages, performed in the hours between the Detroit federal judge’s ruling to scratch out the ban and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stay on that decision, the Associated Press reports.

The couples were wed Saturday in four Michigan counties. The county clerks cannot issue same-sex marriage licenses until the appeals court decides, by Wednesday, whether to extend the stay.

The Michigan governor’s office has not clarified what would happen if state agencies recognize the marriages anyway, or if a couple wanted to apply to adopt a child.

"The governor and administration are not weighing in on these issues at this point," Snyder spokeswoman Sarah Wurfel told The Associated Press in an email Sunday afternoon.

"The order is stayed (at least until Wednesday)," Wurfel wrote, and so the "issue is moot at this point until resolved."

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum legally married the first same-sex couple in the state, Glenna DeJong and Marsha Caspar of Lansing. She had been debating about whether to issue the license all Friday night, she told MLive.

"So many people have been waiting long enough, and it seemed the more I thought about it, the more absurd it seemed to make them wait," Byrum said.

But by 5 p.m., Byrum had to close the county clerk’s office doors when word came of the stay. The same held true in the other four counties, where some lucky couples got their ceremonies in before the offices were forced to close for business. Adoption, tax, and other benefits will not apply until the appeals court makes a final decision.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman found that the amendment to the Michigan Constitution approved by Michigan voters in 2004 to ban same-sex marriage violated citizens’ constitutional right to equal protection under the law. The appeals court froze the decision in response to a request by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to keep the ban in tact, in order "allow a more reasoned consideration" of the cases supporting the ban.

Sources: Associated Press, MLive