Michigan must recognize ‘window marriages’

Posted on 15 Jan 2015 at 3:04pm

Marriage_Equality_Map_FL_01-12-2015A federal judge ruled Michigan must recognize its “window marriages” performed last year after the state’s marriage law was struck down and before a stay was placed on the ruling.

After Michigan’s marriage law was declared unconstitutional, about 300 couples married in the state before a higher court judge placed a stay on the ruling. Michigan is in the 6th Circuit, which later upheld the state’s right to discriminate.

Now Federal District Judge Mark Goldsmith says the state must recognize those marriage licenses it issued.

“Even though the court decision that required Michigan to allow same-sex couples to marry has now been reversed on appeal, the same-sex couples who married in Michigan during the brief period when such marriages were authorized acquired a status that state officials may not ignore absent some compelling interest — a constitutional hurdle that the defense does not even attempt to surmount,” Goldsmith wrote in the introduction to his opinion.

The “window” lasted only a few hours on March 22, 2014. Goldsmith was not the judge in original decision.

In an interesting note, Goldsmith writes in his opinion that no Supreme Court case addresses the right to maintain a marriage but it’s assumed that when the vows are spoken, “the lifetime of committed intimacy that couples expect will follow.”

He calls Michigan’s refusal to recognize marriages it licenses “entirely unprecedented.”

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