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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Friday, January 16, 2015

Federal Judge in Detroit Validates 300 Same Sex Marriages

Last fall, when U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman struck Michigan's state law ban on same-sex marriage and adoption as unconstitutional, dozens of county clerks' offices had their counters ready to issue marriages licenses to same-sex couples.  Some 300 couples were issued marriage licenses the very next day before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the decision pending appeal, swiftly closing the door on the issuance of additional marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

This appellate stay placed these presumably valid same-sex marriages in a legal limbo.  Enter the ACLU, who sued to enjoin the State of Michigan to recognize the marriages.  The case was assigned to federal judge Mark Goldsmith who ruled yesterday that any same-sex couple that was issued a marriage license has a valid marriage that now must be recognized by the state.

Judge Goldsmith's ruling comes a day before legal scholars predict that the SCOTUS, in their case conference this morning, may decide to grant certiorari in the April DeBoer case and the other consolidated cases from the Sixth Circuit; the only appellate circuit to uphold the constitutionality of state law bans on same-sex marriage.

Interestingly, Judge Goldsmith's decision plays on a Bible verse in upholding the validity of the marriage licenses issued by the county clerks. His decision states that, "under these circumstances, what the state has joined together, it may not put asunder."

Constitutional considerations aside, the judicial math was simple in this case: once a marriage license is issued by an arm of the state, Judge Goldsmith ruled that the state cannot withdraw the status it has granted.  To rule otherwise, said Goldsmith, would "catastrophically undermine the stability that marriages seeks to create", to say nothing of the damage done to the principle of certainty in the law.

No word from the Michigan Attorney General or the Governor whether it will appeal Goldsmith's decision. Meanwhile, the SCOTUS could advance the agenda today with an order granting the petition for certiorari in the consolidated DeBoer cases.

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