The federal government announced that it will recognize the unions of about 300 couples who got married last week, after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down a statewide ban on marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The Saturday following the ruling, a higher court halted the wedding license process for same-sex Michigan couples, leaving many of them unsure as to whether their marriages would hold any legal weight.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday morning that because the governor of Michigan made it clear that the few marriages that took place were lawful and valid when entered into, the federal government will recognize them. Still Michigan will not extend state rights and benefits that are tied to marriages.
Holder cited a similar situation in Utah, in which a judge declared that barring same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional in December. Couples began marrying, but the Supreme Court put a halt on the process in January, after which Holder declared that the federal government would recognize those marriages.
“Last June’s decision by the Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor was a victory for equal protection under the law and a historic step toward equality for all American families," Holder said. "The Department of Justice continues to work with its federal partners to implement this decision across the government. And we will remain steadfast in our commitment to realizing our country’s founding ideals of equality, opportunity, and justice for all.”
Holder's statement comes after six Democratic members of Congress wrote to the attorney general asking the Department of Justice to recognize the marriages, according to the Washington Post.