DETROIT – Gov. Rick Snyder says Michigan will recognize more than 300 same-sex marriages performed during a brief window when they were allowed last year.
The Republican governor announced Wednesday that he won't appeal a ruling that the state must recognize these unions.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan's ban of gay marriage as unconstitutional last March. Same-sex couples in four counties married the next day before Friedman's decision was stayed, blocking additional same-sex marriages.
A federal appeals court reversed Friedman's ruling but U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled in January that Michigan must recognize marriages performed between the time of Friedman's ruling and the stay. He put his decision on hold for 21 days pending any appeal.
"The judge has determined that same-sex couples were legally married on that day, and we will follow the law and extend state marriage benefits to those couples," Snyder said.
"I appreciate that the larger question will be addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court this year. This is an issue that has been divisive across our country. Our nation's highest court will decide this issue. I know there are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and it's vitally important for an expedient resolution that will allow people in Michigan, as well as other states, to move forward together on the other challenges we face."
Michigan's recognition of theses marriages could affect couples' access to a myriad of benefits including, health insurance coverage and the ability to jointly adopt.
The U.S. Supreme Court has since decided to consider the legality of Michigan's 2004 voter-approved ban.