Caspar v. Snyder - Freedom to Marry in Michigan
What's at Stake
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit today to guarantee that the marriages of 300 same-sex couples performed in Michigan in March 2014 are recognized by the state. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were married after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban and before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put the decision on hold.
On Friday, March 21, Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan’s ban on the freedom to marry as violating federal law. The next day, approximately 300 same-sex couples celebrated this historic ruling by getting married after four county clerks opened their offices to issue marriage licenses.
A few days later, Governor Rick Snyder announced that, while the marriages were legal, the state would not recognize them for the purposes of providing state benefits that are afforded to married couples. His decision was followed by an announcement by the federal government that it would recognize the marriages for federal purposes.
Because of Governor Snyder’s refusal to recognize the marriages of the 300 couples, these families are precluded from enjoying the many benefits of marriage in Michigan, including providing health insurance to spouses, jointly adopting children, and ensuring the financial stability of their families.
The lawsuit argues that once same-sex couples are legally married in Michigan, they gain protections that cannot be taken away retroactively. Furthermore, the U.S. Constitution compels state officials to recognize those protections regardless of the ultimate outcome of the appeal of Judge Friedman’s ruling.