The federal government will recognize the 300-odd same-sex marriages performed over the weekend in Michigan after a federal judge struck down the state's gay marriage ban. That's despite Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's announcement this week that his state will not recognize those marriages, citing a stay on the court decision issued last Saturday.
The federal government's decision was announced on Friday morning by Attorney General Eric Holder, who noted that federal recognition means those couples "will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages." He added:
“Last June’s decision by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor was a victory for equal protection under the law and a historic step toward equality for all American families. The Department of Justice continues to work with its federal partners to implement this decision across the government. And we will remain steadfast in our commitment to realizing our country’s founding ideals of equality, opportunity, and justice for all.”
Holder's decision consistent with the government's stance towards 1,300 married same-sex couples in Utah, who face a similar limbo of federal, but not state, recognition of their marriages while a court battle over a state ban continues. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced in January that his administration considers those marriages "on hold" until the issue is resolved. Similarly, Snyder's statement announcing the state's position acknowledges that the couples who married on Saturday "had a legal marriage." But with the restoration of the state ban, he argued, Michigan was not obligated to recognize those marriages.
Utah and Michigan bucked an earlier trend among states with contested same-sex marriages. Both California and New Mexico (states that now permanently recognize gay marriage) have recognized marriages performed during temporary windows where same-sex marriage was legal. In California, for instance, the state recognized the 18,000 same-sex couples who married after a state court legalized same sex marriage, but before voters passed Proposition 8.