A U.S. Appeals Court Judge ruled on Thursday that Michigan must recognize 300 same-sex marriages that took place when a federal court struck down a state ban but before an appeals court put that decision on hold.
The same-sex couples who married in Michigan during that brief period acquired a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution even though a U.S. appeals court has reversed the 2014 decision that struck down the Michigan law, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled.
“In these circumstances, what the state has joined together, it may not put asunder,” Goldsmith said in a written opinion, which he put on hold for 21 days.
Eight same-sex couples had challenged Michigan’s refusal to recognize their marriages entered into after a federal judge ruled on March 21 that the state’s ban was unconstitutional and before a 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stay closed the window the next day.
The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to take up the cases concerning gay marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee, all originating from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Both sides are anticipating the fight.
“The sooner the United States Supreme Court makes a decision on this issue the better it will be for Michigan and America,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement.
“Too many other couples are still being denied the freedom to marry and full respect and equality under the law, in Michigan and other states, and action by the courts remains urgently needed,” Evan Wolfson, president of gay rights advocates Freedom to Marry, said