A federal appeals court won't consider the issue until this summer but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder isn't waiting. The Gongwer News Service reports that Holder has announced that the federal government will extend benefits to about 300 same-sex couples who were married in Michigan last weekend. All of the Democrats in the state's congressional delegation had urged Holder to recognize the marriages now.
The couples tied the knot after a federal judge in Detroit ruled that Michigan's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional but before the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati stayed the ruling. It is expected to begin hearing arguments in the case this summer. Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette will ask appellate judges to overturn the lower court's ruling and uphold the law approved by voters in 2004.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said earlier in the week that the marriages conducted before the stay was issued are legal but don't entitle the couples to state benefits until the courts rule on the issue. That's prompted the Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union to consider filing lawsuits on behalf of some same-sex couples.
Friday's federal ruling means that those in legal same-sex marriages in Michigan will immediate;y be eligible for all "relevant federal benefits".