Michigan

Mich. lawyers say appeals court ruling voids more than 300 same-sex marriages

Marsha Caspar, 51, left, and Glenna DeJong, 53, of Lansing, Mich., sign documents March 22, 2014, before they were married at the Ingham County Courthouse in Mason, Mich. AP

DETROIT — Attorneys for the state of Michigan argued on Friday that a federal appeals court ruling last week that upheld the state’s ban on same-sex marriage invalidates the unions of 300 same-sex couples who were married earlier this year.

Marsha Caspar, 51, left, and Glenna DeJong, 53, of Lansing, Mich., sign documents March 22, 2014, before they were married at the Ingham County Courthouse in Mason, Mich.AP

Marsha Caspar, 51, left, and Glenna DeJong, 53, of Lansing, Mich., sign documents March 22, 2014, before they were married at the Ingham County Courthouse in Mason, Mich.

The couples received marriage licenses in March when U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman first struck down the ban, and before the ruling was stayed.

On November 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban, and similar bans in three other states.

“Consequently, from a legal standpoint, because the marriages rested solely on the district court’s erroneous decision, which has now been reversed, it is as if the marriages never existed, and Plaintiffs’ requests for benefits attendant to a legal marriage must be denied,” lawyers for the state wrote in the six-page brief, reports The Detroit News.

The brief was filed with U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith, who heard oral arguments in a separate challenge filed in April by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of eight of the affected couples seeking to have their marriage recognized by the state.

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Marsha Caspar, the lead plaintiff in the case, and Glenna DeJong (pictured) were the first same-sex couple in Michigan to be married March 22 in Ingham County, Mich.

Just days after the marriages were performed last March, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced they would be recognized by the federal government for purposes of filing federal taxes jointly, Social Security benefits for spouses and applications legal immigration status for partners, among other benefits.

A copy of Friday’s brief is here.

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