News (USA)

Snyder nears verdict on status of Mich. same-sex marriage licenses

DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday he wants to quickly decide the legal status of hundreds of same-sex marriages conducted after a judge struck down Michigan’s gay marriage ban but before the ruling was halted.

Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Mich.)
Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Mich.)

The Republican governor could make an announcement later Wednesday after consulting with lawyers.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to provide some clarity at least from our perspective on that relatively soon,” Snyder told reporters after speaking at an agricultural summit near Lansing. “My job is to actually follow the law, and that’s the issue we’re analyzing right now.”

The governor ideally will announce his decision Wednesday, but it could be later, spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said.

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court put an indefinite halt to gay marriage in Michigan while it takes a longer look at U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman’s decision Friday overturning a 2004 voter-approved constitutional ban. Hundreds of same-sex couples in four counties were married Saturday before the appeals court stepped in with a temporary stay.

What remains unclear is the legal status – including the benefits that come with marriage – of those couples in Washtenaw, Ingham, Oakland and Muskegon counties. Supporters of same-sex marriage are urging the Obama administration to recognize the marriages for purposes of federal benefits as it has done in other states.

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On Sunday, Snyder’s office said that Michigan state agencies won’t immediately recognize hundreds of same-sex marriages that were performed in the hours before an appeals court put on hold a judge’s ruling that tossed out the ban on same-sex marriage.

Snyder, who keeps mostly silent on social issues, supported marriage as “between a man and a woman” in a 2010 gubernatorial debate.

“There’s one sentence in a debate four years ago. I’m not going to go rehash that,” Snyder said Wednesday, saying the No. 1 issue for citizens is economic growth.

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