U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has extended federal recognition to the Michigan marriages of about 300 same-sex couples that took place before a federal appeals court put those unions on hold.
Holder's action on Friday enables the government to extend eligibility for federal benefits to the couples. It came two days after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said Michigan won't recognize the marriages performed last weekend. U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the gay marriage ban the day before.
Snyder's move closed the door to certain state benefits reserved solely for married couples.
Four counties granted licenses before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a temporary halt. The stay was extended indefinitely on Tuesday.
Full statement from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder:
I have determined that the same-sex marriages performed last Saturday in Michigan will be recognized by the federal government. These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.
The Governor of Michigan has made clear that the marriages that took place on Saturday were lawful and valid when entered into, although Michigan will not extend state rights and benefits tied to these marriages pending further legal proceedings.
For purposes of federal law, as I announced in January with respect to similarly situated same-sex couples in Utah, these Michigan couples will not be asked to wait for further resolution in the courts before they may seek federal benefits to which they are entitled.
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.