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Detroit Minister Sues Michigan For The Right To Conduct Same-Sex and Polygamous Marriages

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 2.36.41 PMA bold Detroit minister filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan, alleging state law violates his right to religious freedom by barring him from conducting same-sex and polygamous marriages reports The Detroit NewsRev. Neil Patrick Carrick filed the lawsuit on Monday against Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, citing that the state's ban on such unions runs counter to the First Amendment and 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Carrick issued a stoic statement on the matter Tuesday.

Said Carrick:

"Churches should have the right to marry who they want to marry. I've been told by others that 'we would love to marry (gays and lesbians) but we can't because we would be breaking the law.'

"The state of Michigan does not have the right to tell us what to do in our church."

In the lawsuit, Carrick claims the state engages in "the disparate treatment" of gays, lesbians and what he calls "plural relationships." Carrick, a former pastor with the United Church of Christ, says he turned down requests from same-sex to marry because he would be breaking state law. Michigan law states that someone who knowingly performs a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples is a punishable crime and carries a fine of up to $500. "Michigan officials create discrimination and potentially prosecution of private conduct between consenting adults without requiring law enforcement officials to show harm to society or those involved," Carrick said.

Gina Calcagno, the campaign manager for Michigan for Marriage, an advocacy group that wholeheartedly supports same-sex marriage, said many religious are eager to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples. "They are just waiting for the state to catch up," said Calcagno. The United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit last April against the state of North Carolina arguing that the state's marriage law violates the First Amendment rights of clergy to "free exercise of religion." A federal judge struck down the North Carolina law in October.

A spokesman for the Michigan Attorney General's Office declined to comment about the lawsuit Tuesday. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review a case challenging Michigan's gay marriage ban. 


Federal Court Rules Michigan Must Recognize 300+ Gay Marriage Licenses Issued in March

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled today that Michigan must recognize more than 300 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples last March. Goldsmith stayed his ruling for 21 days.

Freedom to Marry reports: Snyder

Today's ruling was in the case Caspar v. Snyder, which was filed on April 14, 2014 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan on behalf of eight same-sex couples who received marriage licenses on the first day of the freedom to marry in Michigan. More than 300 couples received marriage licenses on March 22, after a federal judge struck down the state's ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The ruling was stayed later that afternoon, and although the federal government said that it would respect the Michigan marriage licenses for all purposes, Governor Rick Snyder (pictured) said that the state would deny respect to the licenses as the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals considered arguments in the original federal lawsuit.

Judge Goldsmith wrote:

The alleged harm of impaired human dignity and denial of at least some tangible benefits have already come about, thereby establishing that the factual record is sufficiently developed, such that there is no need to await future events for adjudication of the issues in this action. And delaying judicial resolution of these issues would serve no useful purpose. To the contrary, such delay would compound the harms these Plaintiffs suffer each day that their marital status remains unrecognized.

Judge Goldsmith's ruling, which is stayed for 21 days, means that all of the same-sex couples who were married on March 22 before the ruling was stayed will soon be respected by the state.

Ruling, via Equality Case Files, below:

4:14-cv-11499 #46 by Equality Case Files


Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Argues Sixth Circuit Ruling Invalidates Gay Marriages Performed in March

In a new brief filed in reaction to the Sixth Circuit's anti-equality ruling last week upholding Michigan's gay marriage ban, governor Rick Snyder is arguing the 300 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples back in March are now null and void. 

The Associated Press reports:

SnyderThe 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati issued a stay on marriages March 22, but not until after 300 couples had completed the steps to be married.

Afterward, Gov. Rick Snyder said the affected couples don't have the state benefits of marriage. On Nov. 6, the court in Cincinnati upheld Michigan's ban, and those in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

"Consequently, from a legal standpoint, because the marriages rested solely on the district court's erroneous decision, which has now been reversed, it is as if the marriages never existed, and Plaintiffs' requests for benefits attendant to a legal marriage must be denied," lawyers for the state wrote in the six-page brief.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in Michigan's gay marriage case are expected to file briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. The Ohio and Tennessee marriage cases have already been appealed to the high court. 

Read Snyder's brief below via Equality Case Files:


Michigan Governor Rick Snyder Vows to Continue Defending State's Gay Marriage Ban

Following yesterday's Sixth Circuit ruling upholding Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette announced their plans to continue to defend the ban in court.

SnyderMLive reports:

“When I became governor, I took an oath to support and defend our state constitution, without exceptions,” Snyder said in a statement, referencing the 2004 voter-approved amendment that defined marriage as between one woman and one man.

“My obligation to carry out that oath is not a matter of personal preference. As I have said throughout this process, I will respect the court’s decision as it examines the legality of same-sex marriage.”

The ACLU has pledged to appeal the Sixth Circuit's decision directly to the Supreme Court. 


Michigan Governor Rick Snyder: Legislature Should Take Up LGBT Protections

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said on Thursday that he would like the legislature to update Michigan's civil rights law to prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity, the AP reports:

Snyder"I don't believe in discrimination," the Republican governor told reporters at the Mackinac Policy Conference, the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual meeting for more than 1,500 business, political and civil leaders. "It's a healthy thing for the Legislature to look to take it up as an issue sometime this year."

He stopped short of specifically backing an update of the 1976 Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, but his request that the GOP-led Legislature debate legislation late this summer or in the fall was seen as a positive signal by advocates. Snyder's comments — his strongest to date — came the same day that Chrysler, other companies, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce joined the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition, a group created this month to lobby to amend the law.

Snyder had said he was open to adding gays and lesbians to the state's protections back in December.

Snyder speaks another language when it comes to marriage, however.

In February he asked a judge to rule in favor of the state in a lawsuit filed by five same-sex couples demanding domestic partner benefits. And after Michigan's gay marriage ban was struck down in March, Snyder said the government would not recognize the marriages.

He has been an expert dodger when it comes to expressing his personal views on both topics.


Michigan Governor Says State Won't Recognize Gay Marriages Performed Over Weekend: VIDEO

Snyder

Michigan will not recognize the hundreds of gay marriages performed over the weekend even though it sees them as "legal and valid", Governor Rick Snyder told reporters on Wednesday, the Detroit Free Press reports:

"With respect to the marriages, we believe those are legal and valid marriages...The stay being issued makes it more complicated. Because of the stay, we won’t recognize the benefits of the marriage until there’s a removal of the stay... Hopefully we’ll be able to provide some clarity, at least from our perspective, relatively soon."

The ACLU said yesterday that it would sue if the state decided not to offer benefits to the gay couples married in Michigan over the weekend.

The Governor issued this statement:

“After comprehensive legal review of state law and all recent court rulings, we have concluded that same-sex couples were legally married at county clerk offices in the time period between U.S. District Judge Freidman’s ruling and the 6th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporary stay of that ruling.

“In accordance with the law, the U.S. Circuit Court’s stay has the effect of suspending the benefits of marriage until further court rulings are issued on this matter. The couples with certificates of marriage from Michigan courthouses last Saturday were legally married and the marriage was valid when entered into. Because the stay brings Michigan law on this issue back into effect, the rights tied to these marriages are suspended until the stay is lifted or Judge Friedman’s decision is upheld on appeal.”

In another conversation with reporters, Snyder was asked his personal views about marriage, and refused to say what they were.

"I'm not going to go back and rehash a sentence in one debate from four years ago. I've been focused on jobs, it's my main message, and I'm staying consistent with that."

Attorney General Bill Schuette refused to give his personal opinion either.

Watch two clips of the governor and attorney general with reporters, AFTER THE JUMP...

Schuette

Continue reading "Michigan Governor Says State Won't Recognize Gay Marriages Performed Over Weekend: VIDEO" »


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