Michigan won't recognize same-sex marriages

LANSING, Mich. (USA TODAY) -- Michigan's governor said the nearly 300 same-sex marriages performed Saturday in the state are legal, but Michigan won't recognize them because of a stay put on a judicial decision that would allow for the unions.

"With respect to the marriages, we believe those are legal and valid marriages," Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday. "The stay being issued makes it more complicated.

"Because of the stay, we won't recognize the benefits of the marriage until there's a removal of the stay," he said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to provide some clarity, at least from our perspective, relatively soon."

About 300 same-sex couples got married in four Michigan counties after a federal judge ruled Friday that the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. But judges at the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay the next day and later extended it indefinitely.

It's not clear whether the state eventually will recognize the 300 marriages for purposes such as adoption rights and filing of joint income tax returns. Next year, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to deal with the issue.

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Snyder's announcement drew swift criticism from Democrats and advocates for same-sex marriage.

"You can't have it both ways!" state Rep. Kate Segal, a Democrat from Battle Creek, Mich., tweeted.

The only tweet from the governor's Twitter account, @onetoughnerd, mentioned that same-sex couples wed March 22 were legally married, not that he would keep benefits and rights of marriage from them. A link to a three-paragraph press release provided the details.

"Someone should remind the governor that there was no stay in place on Saturday when couples were married," said Mayor Nathan Triplett of East Lansing, Mich. "His position is indefensible."

Snyder, who has directed state Attorney General Bill Schuette to appeal the district court ruling, deflected questions about his own views on same-sex marriage, saying he wanted to focus on jobs and the economy.

But many who support same-sex marriage say the issue is economic because polls show young people and highly educated people are more supportive of it. They say banning same-sex marriage hurts Michigan's ability to attract the best and brightest.

Asked about that on Thursday, Snyder said, "There's always economic issues associated with most everything, but ... my primary focus is on job creation and the overall economy."

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down a 2004 constitutional amendment Friday in Detroit that says marriage is between a man and a woman. The appeals court could take months to affirm or reject Friedman's opinion.


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