Congressional Democrats ask Holder to recognize MI gay marriages
Some congressional Democrats are putting pressure on Michigan to recognize more than 300 same-sex marriages performed last weekend. They sent a letter today asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to grant federal recognition of the marriages.
"We are writing to request that you formally recognize as lawful the more than 300 same-sex marriages recently performed in the State of Michigan for the purposes of federal law and eligibility for federal benefits," the letter begins. It is signed by Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and US Representatives John Dingell, Sander Levin, Gary Peters, and Dan Kildee.
Federal recognition would allow the couples to file joint income tax returns and share Social Security benefits. More than 300 couples were married in the window between a judge's decision to strike down Michigan's same-sex marriage ban and an appeals court order that put a stop to more weddings.
Congressman Dan Kildee says it's time the question was just settled:
"I think it ought to be clear that they were married legally under Michigan law during the period that the federal court recognized the right that they had to be married," he said in a phone call with reporters. "I think it's a right that's inherent and it's a right that the Constitution guarantees."
Governor Rick Snyder says the state cannot recognize the marriages while the case is being appealed. He says the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay that essentially suspended the judge's ruling and reinstated the same-sex marriage ban for the duration of the lawsuit.
Anne Callison was married to her long-time partner Saturday in Ann Arbor, and she says the government should recognize their union. She says the appeals court order should not affect the legal status of her and her partner.
"I'm married. I have the Michigan marriage certificate. It has seal and witnesses. How can it get any more legal that."
There is a precedent to suggest Holder might look favorably on the request. Holder granted federal recognition of 1,000 gay and lesbian marriages performed in Utah in the time between a judge striking down that state's ban on same-sex unions and the US Supreme Court suspending that decision while it's appealed.