Congressional Democrats call on federal government to recognize Michigan's same-sex marriages

Mar 27, 2014 Issues: Government Reform

Democrats in Michigan’s congressional delegation have joined some locally elected officials in calling on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to recognize the marriages of 300 same-sex couples who tied the knot on Saturday.

“By clarifying the federal status of these now married same-sex couples in Michigan — as you did in January for similarly situated same-sex couples in Utah — you can take another step toward full equality,” said the letter to Holder, signed by U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, and U.S. Reps. Sander Levin, Gary Peters, Dan Kildee and John Dingell.

In a conference call with reporters, Kildee said he thought the days of treating people as second-class citizens were long gone.

“We have a much larger question here: the civil rights case we will face,” he said, recalling the vision of Gov. George Wallace standing in a school doorway trying to stop black children from entering.

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

Joining Kildee on the conference call were Anne and Kelly Callison, an Ann Arbor couple who got married on Saturday. They have a 2-year old son, Corbin, who was carried by Ann but conceived with Kelly’s egg. Michigan law considers Kelly merely an egg donor who can’t adopt Corbin.

Kelly carries around a notebook full of documents signed by Anne that give her the authority to take Corbin to the doctor, pick him up at school and other daily tasks.

“You’re denying a biological parent the security and safety of knowing that I can make decisions for my child,” Kelly said.

■ Interactive time line: Gay marriage in Michigan

The Callisons were among nearly 300 couples who were married on Saturday after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Friday that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. Michigan’s attorney general appealed that decision, and by Saturday afternoon a panel from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals put a stay on the ruling. The stay was extended on Tuesday, ending any future marriages until the case can wend its way through the courts — a process that could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court sometime next summer.

■ PDF: Read Judge Bernard Friedman’s ruling on gay marriage

It also put the 300 couples in legal limbo. Gov. Rick Snyder said Wednesday that while he considers the marriages legal, they will not be recognized by the state because of the stay on the case.

Kildee said Schuette and Snyder should drop their appeals and allow the marriages to be recognized.

“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.”

Holder issued a ruling on a similar case in Utah, recognizing the marriages for the purpose of federal benefits for more than 1,000 couples who were married during a 17-day period before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on a lower court ruling in that state.

East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett and Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum also sent a letter to Holder asking him to recognize the marriages performed in four Michigan counties — Ingham, Oakland, Muskegon and Washtenaw.

There has been no indication of when or if Holder might act on the Michigan requests.

To view the original article