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ACLU Joins Fight Over Same-Sex Marriage in Michigan

bilde.jpgYou may recall that a Michigan judge, not too long ago, stated his conviction that a ban on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution and issued an order invalidating the state's constitutional restriction limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Following U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman's ruling on March 21, 2014, 300 same-sex couples jumped at the opportunity to marry until, that is, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, following a request by Attorney General Bill Schuette, temporarily stopped same-sex marriages in the state.

Shortly thereafter, Gov. Rick Snyder issued a statement noting that same-sex couples who had been legally married would not necessarily be afforded the same benefits as married heterosexual couples.

Voters Passed a Ban on Same-Sex Unions in 2004

Voters in Utah, Michigan and nine other states passed constitutional amendments in 2004 defining marriage as a heterosexual union. That amendment has been in contention, especially since the Supreme Court Rulings last summer that liberalized positions in many states around the country.

The state of Michigan argues that the voters' decision should not sway the state's position since that vote occurred. The governor contends that the will of the people has spoken and should be respected.

Activists in support of gay marriage don't agree. They argue that the amendment is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause, which says the law must treat everyone equally.

A Different Battle Brews Now in Michigan

Now, eight same-sex couples who married in late March in Michigan have the ACLU on their side. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit to protect the rights of the 300 same-sex couples who married during the few days in March this year when same-sex marriage was legal.

Back in March when the Michigan governor stopped gay marriages from occurring, Attorney General Eric Holder promised that the federal government would recognize those 300 unions and that they would be eligible for "all relevant federal benefits." The state doesn't agree.

Most States Ban Same-Sex Marriage

The ban on same-sex marriage continues in thirty-three states, including Michigan, Alabama, Arizona, Alaska, Texas and Wisconsin. There are only sixteen states - and Washington, D.C. - where same-sex unions are legal. Those states are California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, and Maryland.

Do you have questions about custody, guardianships, children's issues, spousal support or same-sex unions? If so, call me or schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of James V. Sansone at 707-623-1875 or contact me by email. You can find additional information on family law, children's issues, spousal support,domestic violence as well as a list of resources you'll find helpful on our website.

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