Defending Michigan Marriages

January 01, 2015

On March 21, 2014, Judge Bernard Friedman entered a final judgment in DeBoer v. Snyder (see above paragraph), declaring Michigan’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples unconstitutional and enjoining the state from prohibiting such marriages. The following day, approximately 300 same-sex couples got married in Michigan before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order staying Judge Friedman’s decision.

Because Michigan’s marriage ban had been enjoined and the injunction had not yet been stayed, the federal government recognizes that these 300 marriages as completely legal under Michigan law. Governor Snyder, however, announced that Michigan will not recognize the validity of these marriages or provide these couples with any of the legal benefits associated with marriage.

In April 2014 the ACLU filed suit in federal court on behalf of eight of the 300 couples, arguing that the Sixth Circuit’s stay of the DeBoer decision does not allow the state to retroactively cancel the 300 marriages that were legal when entered into, and that these 300 couples are constitutionally entitled to remain legally married regardless of the ultimate outcome of the DeBoer appeal.

Our motion for a preliminary injunction was argued in August 2014 and we are awaiting a decision from Judge Mark Goldsmith.

(Caspar v. Snyder; ACLU of Michigan Attorneys Jay Kaplan, Dan Korobkin, Brooke Tucker and Michael J. Steinberg, and Legal Fellows Sofia Nelson, Sofia Rahman and Marc Allen; National ACLU Attorneys John Knight and Joshua Block; Cooperating Attorney Julian Davis Mortenson.)

To view the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket, click here.