After Friday’s ruling by a federal judge overturning Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, at least four counties opened Saturday morning to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In Washtenaw County, local officials decided not only to open, but to only charge $0.01 to skip the three-day waiting period instead of the traditional $50.
The first couple to marry today was Marsha Caspar and Glenna DeJong, who’ve been together for 27 years. They were married by Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, who opened her office an hour earlier than the other counties. According to Byrum, “People have waited long enough. I was sick with myself with the idea of waiting until Monday.”The Detroit Free Press was there to capture this historic moment:
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Photos and videos continue to pour in of couples marrying and many others delivering flowers and other kind gestures to support the couples.
The window to marry will likely not be open long. Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) has already filed an emergency stay with the 6th Circuit. In a statement, Schuette explained his intentions: “Michigan voters enshrined that decision in our State constitution, and their will should stand and be respected. I will continue to carry out my duty to protect and defend the Constitution.”
Michigan’s situation mirrors that of Utah, which was the first state marriage equality federal court victory after the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act. Couples began marrying and both the ruling judge and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay that decision. Ultimately, the Supreme Court stepped in and stopped couples from marrying, which created a precedent for judges to stay their decisions in the multiple victories since then. In Utah, the state decided not to recognize the couples that had married, but other states and the federal government said that they would treat the unions as valid. There’s no reason to believe that there won’t be a stay issued by either the 6th Circuit or the Supreme Court, at which point Michigan will have to make its own decision about the validity of the marriages that have now taken place.
The 6th Circuit has issued a temporary stay, halting marriages until Wednesday and allowing the state time to issue its motion for a permanent stay. Nevertheless, about 300 couples tied the knot Saturday while the opportunity to do so was available.