Constitutional Law

Judge orders Michigan to recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages

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Updated: A judge has ordered the state of Michigan to recognize about 300 same-sex marriages performed during a brief period last year when such unions were legal.

U.S. District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith, ruling in favor of eight same-sex couples Thursday, said those marriages are valid, the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and others report.

“In the circumstances, what the state has joined together, it may not put asunder,” Goldsmith wrote in a 47-page opinion granting the couples’ request for a preliminary injunction forcing the state to recognize their marriages.

The judge, however, stayed his ruling for 21 days to give the state an opportunity to appeal.

The marriages were performed in four counties during a brief period last March after a different federal court judge struck down the state’s gay marriage ban. The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later suspended the decision and reinstated the ban.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review in that case as well as three other gay marriage cases from Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement Thursday that his office was reviewing the ruling. “The sooner the United States Supreme Court makes a decision on this issue, the better it will be for Michigan and America,” he said. Friday reports said arguments before the Supreme Court will be heard in April with a ruling expected in June.

Evan Wolfson, president of the pro-gay marriage group Freedom to Marry, said it was a shame that it took a federal court to force the state of Michigan to recognize that those couples were legally married.

Updated at 4:01 p.m. to include news from the Supreme Court.

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