With an estimated 14,598 gay couples in Michigan, same-sex marriage in Michigan has been a hot topic for decades. Couples who desperately wanted their love to be legally recognized by the state longed for a time when their dream would become a reality. But given Michigan’s long history of not supporting gay marriage, that day seemed like it would never come.
Same-sex unions in any form have been banned in Michigan since a 2004 popular vote added such an amendment to the state constitution. A 1996 statute had already been in place, banning both the licensing of same-sex marriages and the recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.
On March 21, 2014, a U.S. district court ruled the state’s denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples to be unconstitutional, prompting 323 same-sex couples to marry before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed enforcement of the district court’s decision the next day. On November 6, 2014, the 6th Circuit Court reversed the ruling and upheld Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. The state was ordered to recognize the marriages performed on March 22, 2014, but no further marriages could be performed.
Same-sex couples were frustrated with their legal limitations, but were bound by the law. Until the historic day of June 26, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled — in a 5-4 decision — that same-sex marriage should be legal in all 50 states.
With the news that same-sex marriage in Michigan was now legal, couples flooded county clerks’ offices around the state to secure marriage licenses and marry immediately. Some county clerks set up mass marriage ceremonies or stayed open later than normal to accommodate the influx of couples.
With this ruling, issues important to all married couples — such as insurance, hospital visitation, estate planning, and spousal rights and benefits — are valid and improved. Additionally, same-sex couples are now able to participate in joint adoptions and tax filing.
If you have questions about your rights as part of a same-sex couple, or if you need legal counsel surrounding these issues, the Family Law team at Barberi Law in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, is here to help. Please contact us today to learn more.