Ministers, Officiants & Notaries Public
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a motion for preliminary injunction today, May 29, 2014 asking the federal district court to require the State of Michigan to recognize the marriages of hundreds of same-sex couples who were married in Michigan on March 22, 2014. “At the heart of this case is the fundamental right of lawfully married couples to enjoy the benefits of marriage,” said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project. “The state cannot strip a married couple of recognition after it issues a valid marriage license.” On March 21, 2014 U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan’s ban on the right of same-sex couples to marry as violating the United States Constitution in the case of DeBoer v. Snyder. Approximately 300 couples were legally married before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put the decision on hold. A few days later, Governor Rick Snyder announced that, while the 300 marriages were legal, the state would not recognize them for the purposes of providing state benefits that are afforded to married couples. His decision was followed by an announcement by the federal government that it would recognize the marriages for federal purposes. On April 14, 2014 the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of eight same-sex couples, arguing that the state had violated their due process and equal protection rights by refusing to recognize their lawful marriages. In the motion and brief filed today in the case, Caspar v. Snyder, the ACLU argues that no matter what happens on appeal in the DeBoer case, Michigan cannot retroactively take away the benefits of marriage from the same-sex couples who were legally married on March 22. In a virtually identical situation to Michigan, the State of Utah had refused to recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples who were married after Utah’s ban on marriage equality was struck down as unconstitutional. However, a federal district court last week in Utah ordered the state to recognize those marriages in another ACLU case, holding that Utah’s invalidation of those marriages was unconstitutional. No date for argument on the ACLU of Michigan’s motion has been scheduled yet. The State of Michigan has until June 5 to file its initial answer to the lawsuit. In addition to Kaplan, the same-sex couples are being represented by ACLU Cooperating Attorneys Julian Mortenson and Andrew Nickelhoff and ACLU attorneys Daniel Korobkin, Brooke Tucker, Michael J. Steinberg, John Knight, and Kary Moss. June 11, 2014 – Grand Rapids, MI: Attorney Stephanie D. Myott of the law firm Rhoades McKee filed a lawsuit on behalf of Bruce T. Morgan and Brian P. Merucci in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan seeking recognition of Morgan and Merucci’s out-of-state marriage by the State of Michigan. Morgan and Merucci are Michigan residents who have been in a committed relationship for seven years. Morgan was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer in 2011, and the couple made a decision to marry in New York in 2013. When they returned home, their marriage was recognized by the federal government but not by their home state. On March 21, 2014, in DeBoer v. Snyder, Judge Bernard Friedman held that Michigan’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement. The effect of Judge Friedman’s ruling was to authorize the performance of same-sex marriages in Michigan and to recognize the thousands of same-sex couples living in Michigan with marriage licenses from other states. Morgan was overjoyed with the DeBoer decision because he believed that it meant that Michigan now would offer him and Merucci the same rights and benefits that it does any married couple in its borders. “If I am in the hospital, I want to know that Brian can be there at my bedside, as my spouse, and that the hospital will recognize the decisions he makes regarding my care. I want to file joint taxes, to have spousal visitation rights, and to own property with Brian as spouses. I know that Brian will be by my side during this difficult time, and I want him to be recognized as my spouse when he does because that is who he is. We simply want equal treatment under the law,” said Morgan. On March 25, 2014, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Judge Friedman’s decision after approximately 300 same-sex marriages were performed in Michigan. On March 26, 2014, Governor Snyder issued a statement that the same-sex marriages entered into in Michigan after the DeBoer ruling were valid, but that Michigan would not recognize those marriages pending the Sixth Circuit appeal. Governor Snyder failed to acknowledge the thousands of married same-sex couples with out-of-state marriage licenses like Morgan and Merucci who were living in Michigan when the ban was lifted. “At the moment when Judge Friedman struck down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban, the thousands of marriages of same-sex couples in Michigan at that time whose marriages were performed before March 21, 2014 in other states took effect in Michigan pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Michigan must recognize Bruce and Brian’s New York marriage,” said Myott. “Governor Snyder only addressed the couples who married in Michigan after the DeBoer ruling. No one is talking about the thousands of couples in Michigan who were married in another state, like Bruce and Brian. The Constitution protects their fundamental rights as well,” continued Myott. After Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage was struck down, Morgan and Merucci sent a deed conveying their home to themselves as tenants by the entirety—a form of real property ownership available only to married couples—to the Kent County Register of Deeds for recording. The Register of Deeds refused to record the deed, claiming that “Michigan does not recognize same-sex marriages at this time.” Kent County Clerk and Register Mary Hollinrake is named as a defendant in this lawsuit for her denial of Morgan and Merucci’s right to hold property as tenants by the entirety. Another lawsuit has been filed in the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of the same-sex couples who married in Michigan in the window of time between Judge Friedman’s ruling and the Sixth Circuit’s stay that challenges the separate issue of the validity of those marriages. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the only case in Michigan regarding the enforceability of the thousands of out-of-state same-sex marriages that took effect in Michigan when Judge Friedman ruled in DeBoer,” said Myott. On June 16, 2014, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled hearings for five marriage cases in four states on August 6, 2014, the Washington Blade reports: In four separate notices on Monday, the Sixth Circuit, which is located in Cincinnati, announced that arguments for the cases in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee will take place on August 6, 2014, at 1 pm. James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT project, said his organization welcomes the developments for each of the cases. His organization is assisting with litigation in the Ohio case. “We’re happy to see the Circuit taking up this issue so quickly,” Esseks said. “All the cases together reinforce how sweeping and widespread are the harms that come from the marriage bans.” Every case seeks same-sex marriage recognition rights of some sort, except the case from Michigan, which seeks to win the freedom for gay couples to marry in the state. According to Equality on Trial: Michigan: Arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder will be one hour, with 30 minutes per side. Ohio: Arguments in Henry v. Himes and Obergefell v. Himes will be one hour, with 30 minutes per side. Kentucky: Arguments in Bourke v. Beshear will be 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side. Tennessee: Arguments in Tanco v. Haslam will be 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side. In related news, DOMA attorney Roberta Kaplan had filed a motion to intervene in the Ohio case but she has been denied: According to the eight-page notice handed down from the court, Kaplan was denied the ability to participate because the cases is too far advanced at this point. The state of Ohio and the ACLU had objected to Kaplan’s motion to intervene.
Little Traverse Bay Bands Of Odawa Becomes Third Tribal Nation To Pass Marriage Equality
On Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 at 1:35 pm, the tribal council of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians in Michigan became the third tribal nation in the U.S. to pass a marriage equality statute this week. Under consideration by the tribal council since last March, the new statute will allow the tribe to both recognize and perform same-sex marriage. A similar measure failed last July by one vote. When the measure was first proposed, former Odawa Council Chairman Ken Harrington defended the equality effort:
HARRINGTON: We have our own constitution, our own court system, and our own government here, police force, etc, DNR, so it’s our right to express equality… In my mind, we’re all equal in our creator’s eye.
Marriage equality at Little Traverse is the latest in a larger movement by tribal members and tribal leaders to pass marriage equality measures. In fact, a new tribal LGBT equality toolkit was just released last fall to help tribal leaders incorporate comprehensive protections for LGBT people and families into their tribal codes. The Indigenous Ways of Knowing program, which released the toolkit, is now working on implementing with interested tribal leaders and their governments.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians announced on March 9, 2013, that recognition for same-sex marriages would enter into force on May 8, 2013. They issued their first such marriage certificate to a male couple on June 20, 2013.
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MICHIGAN STATE LAWS
2011 Michigan Compiled Laws Chapter 551 – Marriage R.S. of 1846 – Revised Statutes of 1846 (551.1 – 551.18)
Act 128 of 1887 – Marriage License (551.101 – 551.111)
551.7 Persons authorized to solemnize marriage; records; returns; disposition of fees charged by mayor or county clerk. (1) Marriages may be solemnized by any of the following: (a) A judge of the district court, in the district in which the judge is serving. (b) A district court magistrate, in the district in which the magistrate serves. (c) A municipal judge, in the city in which the judge is serving or in a township over which a municipal court has jurisdiction under section 9928 of the revised judicature act of 1961, 1961 PA 236, MCL 600.9928. (d) A judge of probate, in the county or probate court district in which the judge is serving. (e) A judge of a federal court. (f) A mayor of a city, anywhere in a county in which that city is located. (g) A county clerk in the county in which the clerk serves, or in another county with the written authorization of the clerk of the other county. (h) For a county having more than 2,000,000 inhabitants, an employee of the county clerk’s office designated by the county clerk, in the county in which the clerk serves. (i) A minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner, anywhere in the state, if the minister or cleric or religious practitioner is ordained or authorized to solemnize marriages according to the usages of the denomination. (j) A minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner, anywhere in the state, if the minister or cleric or religious practitioner is not a resident of this state but is authorized to solemnize marriages under the laws of the state in which the minister or cleric or religious practitioner resides. (2) A person authorized by this act to solemnize a marriage shall keep proper records and make returns as required by section 4 of 1887 PA 128, MCL 551.104. (3) If a mayor of a city solemnizes a marriage, the mayor shall charge and collect a fee to be determined by the council of that city, which shall be paid to the city treasurer and deposited in the general fund of the city at the end of the month. (4) If the county clerk or, in a county having more than 2,000,000 inhabitants, an employee of the clerk’s office designated by the county clerk solemnizes a marriage, the county clerk shall charge and collect a fee to be determined by the commissioners of the county in which the clerk serves. The fee shall be paid to the treasurer for the county in which the clerk serves and deposited in the general fund of that county at the end of the month. History: R.S. 1846, Ch. 83 ;– CL 1857, 3210 ;– CL 1871, 4725 ;– Am. 1873, Act 85, Eff. July 31, 1873 ;– How. 6215 ;– CL 1897, 8594 ;– Am. 1903, Act 139, Eff. Sept. 17, 1903 ;– Am. 1909, Act 235, Eff. Sept. 1, 1909 ;– CL 1915, 11368 ;– CL 1929, 12696 ;– Am. 1931, Act 28, Imd. Eff. Apr. 21, 1931 ;– Am. 1937, Act 42, Eff. Oct. 29, 1937 ;– CL 1948, 551.7 ;– Am. 1972, Act 211, Eff. July 1, 1972 ;– Am. 1975, Act 175, Imd. Eff. July 20, 1975 ;– Am. 1979, Act 24, Imd. Eff. June 6, 1979 ;– Am. 1983, Act 64, Imd. Eff. May 26, 1983 ;– Am. 2006, Act 419, Imd. Eff. Sept. 29, 2006 ;– Am. 2006, Act 613, Imd. Eff. Jan. 3, 2007 ;– Am. 2008, Act 47, Imd. Eff. Mar. 27, 2008 551.9 Solemnization of marriage; form; declaration by parties; witnesses. In the solemnization of marriage, no particular form shall be required, except that the parties shall solemnly declare, in the presence of the person solemnizing the marriage and the attending witnesses, that they take each other as husband and wife; and in every case, there shall be at least 2 witnesses, besides the person solemnizing the marriage, present at the ceremony. History: R.S. 1846, Ch. 83 ;– CL 1857, 3212 ;– CL 1871, 4727 ;– How. 6217 ;– CL 1897, 8596 ;– CL 1915, 11370 ;– CL 1929, 12698 ;– CL 1948, 551.9 ;– Am. 1972, Act 211, Eff. July 1, 1972 551.14 Unlawful marriage by person authorized to solemnize marriage; penalty. If a person authorized to solemnize marriages knowingly joins any persons in marriage contrary to the provisions of this chapter, he or she shall forfeit for each offense a sum not exceeding $500.00. History: R.S. 1846, Ch. 83 ;– CL 1857, 3217 ;– CL 1871, 4728 ;– How. 6218 ;– CL 1897, 8597 ;– CL 1915, 11371 ;– CL 1929, 12699 ;– CL 1948, 551.14 ;– Am. 1972, Act 211, Eff. July 1, 1972 ;– Am. 1983, Act 64, Imd. Eff. May 26, 1983 551.15 Ceremony performance with knowledge of lack of authority or legal impediment; penalty. If any person shall undertake to join others in marriage, knowing that he is not lawfully authorized so to do, or knowing of any legal impediment to the proposed marriage, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not more than 1 year, or by a fine not less than 50 nor more than 500 dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court. History: R.S. 1846, Ch. 83 ;– CL 1857, 3218 ;– CL 1871, 4729 ;– How. 6219 ;– CL 1897, 8598 ;– CL 1915, 11372 ;– CL 1929, 12700 ;– CL 1948, 551.15 551.16 Want of jurisdiction or authority to solemnize marriage; affect on marriage. A marriage solemnized before an individual professing to be a district judge, common pleas court judge, district court magistrate, municipal judge, judge of probate, judge of a federal court, mayor, the county clerk or, in a county having more than 2,000,000 inhabitants, an employee of the county clerk designated by the clerk to solemnize marriages, or a minister of the gospel or cleric or religious practitioner shall not be considered or adjudged to be void, nor shall the validity of the marriage be affected, on account of a want of jurisdiction or authority by that individual if the marriage was consummated with a full belief on the part of the individuals married, or either of them, that they were lawfully joined in marriage. History: R.S. 1846, Ch. 83 ;– CL 1857, 3219 ;– CL 1871, 4730 ;– How. 6220 ;– CL 1897, 8599 ;– CL 1915, 11373 ;– CL 1929, 12701 ;– CL 1948, 551.16 ;– Am. 1972, Act 211, Eff. July 1, 1972 ;– Am. 1975, Act 175, Imd. Eff. July 20, 1975 ;– Am. 1979, Act 24, Imd. Eff. June 6, 1979 ;– Am. 2006, Act 419, Imd. Eff. Sept. 29, 2006 551.17 Denominational modes of solemnization; effect of chapter. The preceding provisions of this chapter, so far as they relate to the manner of solemnizing marriages, shall not affect marriages among the people called Friends or Quakers; nor marriages among people of any other particular denomination, having, as such, any peculiar mode of solemnizing marriages; but such marriages may be solemnized in the manner heretofore used and practiced in their respective societies or denominations. History: R.S. 1846, Ch. 83 ;– CL 1857, 3220 ;– CL 1871, 4731 ;– How. 6221 ;– CL 1897, 8600 ;– CL 1915, 11374 ;– CL 1929, 12702 ;– CL 1948, 551.17 551.18 Certificates and records of marriage as evidence. The original certificates and records of marriage made by the person solemnizing the marriage as prescribed in this chapter, and the record thereof made by the county clerk, or a copy of such record duly certified by such clerk, shall be received in all courts and places, as presumptive evidence of the fact of the marriage. History: R.S. 1846, Ch. 83 ;– CL 1857, 3221 ;– CL 1871, 4732 ;– How. 6222 ;– CL 1897, 8601 ;– CL 1915, 11375 ;– CL 1929, 12703 ;– CL 1948, 551.18 ;– Am. 1972, Act 211, Eff. July 1, 1972 Act 128 of 1887 – Marriage License (551.101 – 551.111) 551.104 Certificate completion; officiating person duty; original license return; record. It shall be the duty of the clergyman or magistrate, officiating at a marriage, to fill in the spaces of the certificate left blank for the entry of the time and place of the marriage, the names and residences of 2 witnesses, and his own signature in certification that the marriage has been performed by him and any and all information required to be filled in in the spaces left blank in the certificate shall be typewritten or legibly printed. He shall separate the duplicate license and certificate, and deliver the half part designated duplicate to 1 of the parties, so joined in marriage, and within 10 days return the original to the county clerk issuing the same. It shall be the duty of such clergyman or magistrate to keep an accurate record of all marriages solemnized in a book used expressly for that purpose. History: 1887, Act 128, Eff. Sept. 28, 1887 ;– How. 6222d ;– CL 1897, 8605 ;– Am. 1913, Act 244, Eff. Aug. 14, 1913 ;– CL 1915, 11379 ;– CL 1929, 12709 ;– CL 1948, 551.104 ;– Am. 1955, Act 96, Eff. Oct. 14, 1955 551.106 Person officiating at marriage; violation of act, misdemeanor, penalty. Any clergyman or magistrate who shall join together in marriage parties who have not delivered to him a properly issued license, as provided for in this act, or who shall violate any of the provisions of this act, shall be adjudged guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of 100 dollars, or in default of payment thereof, by imprisonment in the county jail for a term of 90 days. History: 1887, Act 128, Eff. Sept. 28, 1887 ;– How. 6222f ;– CL 1897, 8607 ;– CL 1915, 11381 ;– CL 1929, 12711 ;– CL 1948, 551.106 551.107 Failure to return certificate; misdemeanor, penalty. Any person, whose duty it shall be to return a marriage certificate to the county clerk, who shall neglect to return said certificate, shall be adjudged guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of not exceeding 100 dollars or 90 days’ imprisonment, or both, in the discretion of the court. History: 1887, Act 128, Eff. Sept. 28, 1887 ;– How. 6222g ;– CL 1897, 8608 ;– CL 1915, 11382 ;– CL 1929, 12712 ;– CL 1948, 551.107