Governor: State Won’t Recognize Same-Sex Marriage Licenses; County Clerk Reacts

Posted at 8:28 PM, Mar 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-26 22:31:00-04

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LANSING, Mich. (March 26, 2014) — Governor Rick Snyder decided that the state won’t recognize marriage licenses for the roughly 300 same-sex couples that wed Saturday morning.

Saturday afternoon, a judge issued a ‘stay’ at the request of state attorney general Bill Schuette.

“Because of the stay that the operation of law is such that we won’t recognize the benefits of that marriage until there’s a removal of the stay or there’s an upholding of the judge’s opinion,” Snyder told a group of reporters.

Ingham County clerk Barb Byrum officiated the first same-sex wedding in Michigan.

She disagrees with the governor’s decision. However, she and Snyder agree on one thing in this debate: the marriages are legal.
However, since the state won’t recognize the marriage licenses, those couples won’t qualify for marriage benefits.

State assistance and adoptions are two of the things on hold for those affected couples.

“I think it just adds to the confusion for families, and it’s really unfortunate that he has made that decision,” Byrum said.

The clerk’s decision to open the courthouse on a Saturday is a rare move.

“You’re an elected official. Any political motivations [for opening on a Saturday]?” FOX 17 asked.

“No, I could not sleep with myself if I did not open on Saturday knowing that there were people that have been married, that have been waiting to be married for decades,” Byrum replied.

That morning, 57 same-sex couples were married in just hours Saturday. Byrum waived the three day waiting period per the license at her discretion. But the governor’s decision places the couples at square one, and they’re now waiting indefinitely.

FOX 17 asked, “Were you concerned about ending up in a situation like this?”

“There was always the possibility that the attorney general would appeal and request a stay. We expected, quite honestly, for him to request a stay. I didn’t expect for it to be decided on saturday afternoon,” Byrum said.

Governor spokesperson Sarah Wurfel said Bill Schuette, the attorney general, did not weigh in on this decision.

Also, the ACLU is now threatening legal action.