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Michigan Congressional Democrats Ask Federal Government to Recognize Gay Marriage

“This is not some sort of esoteric discussion,” Congressman Dan Kildee said. “We have a much larger question here: the civil rights case we will face.”

Michigan's Democratic congressional district asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to clarify the federal status of same-sex couples married after the state's ban on gay marriage was declared unconstitutional, but before the ruling was stayed.
Michigan's Democratic congressional district asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to clarify the federal status of same-sex couples married after the state's ban on gay marriage was declared unconstitutional, but before the ruling was stayed.

There was more wrangling Thursday over gay marriage in Michigan after Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to recognize about 300 marriages performed during the 24-hour period that same-sex marriage was allowed in Michigan

U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, along with U.S. Reps. Sander Levin, Gary Peters, Dan Kildee and John Dingell, asked Holder to clarify the federal status of the now married couples, as he did in January for similarly situated gay couples in Utah, the Detroit Free Press reports.

In the Utah case, Holder said the government would recognize for the purpose of federal benefits the more than 1,000 couples who were married during the 17 days between a lower court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage and the stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s unclear when, or if, Holder will intervene.

On Wednesday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said the marriages are legal, but the state won’t recognize them until the Supreme Court has a chance to hear and rule on appeal of U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman’s historic ruling turning back a constitutional amendment forbidding gay marriage approved by voters in 2004.

Recognizing the marriages of couples who rushed to four county courthouses in Michigan to tie the knot after Friday’s ruling is “another step toward full equality,” the delegation said.

Democrats in the Michigan Legislature took a similar posture after Snyder said the marriages wouldn’t be recognized because of a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stay on the ruling.

Snyder’s decision puts on hold newlywed gay couples’ plans to adopt children – which was the basis of the lawsuit prompting the ruling filed by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse of Hazel Park who have been together for a decade, but were prohibited from jointly adopting children because they didn’t have a legal marriage.

It also blocks legally married gay couples from applying for tax and other state benefits available to other married couples in Michigan.

In a conference call with reports, Kildee, who represents Michigan’s 5th District, said failure by government officials to recognize the messages is a civil rights issue that can’t be ignored.

“We have a much larger question here: the civil rights case we will face,” he said, recalling for reporters the scene of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace standing at the school doorway trying to stop black students from entering the University of Alabama in 1963.

“This is not some sort of esoteric discussion,” Kildee said. “It’s about real Michigan families who just want to do best for themselves and their children.”

Kildee said Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has called Friedman’s ruling declaring the voter-backed ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional “violation of the will of the people” should drop their appeal.

“They should put away the posturing and recognize the inherent rights of these individuals to love one another,” he said. “The question is do they support equality for all Michiganders.”

Also, East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett and Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, whose county was one of four that where gay marriages were performed Sturday, are awaiting a response from the U.S. Department of Justice on whether it will recognize the same-sex marriages in Michigan for the purposes of granting federal benefits.

ACLU Michigan is also considering intervening on behalf of the gay couples after Snyder’s decision Wednesday, MLive reports. Jay Kaplan, the LGBT Project attorney for the civil rights group, said Snyder’s position could help the couples win federal benefits, but still treats them as “second-class citizens” denied state benefits.

"It's very disconcerting that in one breath, he's saying these marriages are legal, and yet he's saying the state will deny any benefits, protections or recognitions associated with the marriage," Kaplan said of Snyder. "How can you talk out of both sides of your mouth?

"These people have legal marriages, and under the laws of our state, as well as the constitution, you have to treat them equally."
John David April 03, 2014 at 04:49 PM
Out of the mouth of babes. If a child is raised to accept differences among people they probably wouldn't say such a thing. They are little sponges and soak in the ideas and beliefs of those they know and trust, kids and adults. If those adults and other kids don't express opinions about all the diverse people there are, particularly negative ones, then how would that child know what to say is natural or unnatural? Having grown up with a severely disabled sister, knowing and loving her, you'd be shock at the disgusting, untrue things adults and kids might say in our family's presence, even directly to her, without any correction by an adult. I'd hope RGs son was at least told such comments are rude.
John David April 03, 2014 at 05:05 PM
You've got to be taught To hate and fear, You've got to be taught From year to year, It's got to be drummed In your dear little ear You've got to be carefully taught. You've got to be taught to be afraid Of people whose eyes are oddly made, And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade, You've got to be carefully taught. You've got to be taught before it's too late, Before you are six or seven or eight, To hate all the people your relatives hate, You've got to be carefully taught! 1949 South Pacific, Rodgers and Hammerstein
Jay Charles April 04, 2014 at 05:04 PM
Yes, John David, prejudice has to be learned, whether it be directed against blacks, Jews, Christians, Muslims, gays, Polish, Germans, Italians, Hispanics , etc. Apparently RG has done a very good job of teaching his son to hate.
John David April 05, 2014 at 03:52 AM
Prejudice and hate, RG, is old stuff. Thinking a kid can look at two men, assume they are homosexual (how clever he knew) and claim they were unnatural is amazing. But, hate, despite what many try to teach, seems to live on in many way. Racial "traditions" are still clung to many places, like some southern public schools that have few whites because prejudice drives whites to private ones, but are amazingly run by white dominated school boards. There is always hope with each new generation, though. Maybe your son can be taught and learn tolerance, if he's naturally incapable of acceptance. Here's a story about lingering "traditions" clearly stemming from racial prejudice, where a new generation shows an older one what is obviously right to most of us. Bet that someone will say it's "unnatural". http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/04/living/integrated-prom-wilcox-county-georgia/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

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