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Marriage Equality

Terminally Ill Man Can't Wait for Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

Terminally Ill Man Can't Wait for Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

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By the time the Supreme Court rules, it may be too late for Bruce Morgan and Brian Merucci.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this June on marriage equality, but Bruce Morgan's inoperable brain cancer may not be willing to wait until then.

Morgan has been married to Brian Merucci since 2013, but the state of Michigan, where they live, has refused to recognize their New York marriage license. Last week, the couple's attorney filed a new brief, asking a federal court to immediately order the state to recognize their marriage.

It's hard to predict whether the request will be granted. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has already said that he won't challenge the licenses issued to 300 Michigan same-sex couples during a brief window when such marriages were legal in the state.

A federal District Court judge ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional in March 2014. But that ruling was reversed on appeal, and is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in the case out of Michigan -- along with cases from Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee -- on April 28.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is responsible for the appeal, and for defending the ban before the U.S. Supreme Court. In late March, he filed a brief claiming that the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection clause doesn't apply to marriage.

According to Stephanie Myott, Merucci and Morgan's attorney, the couple's out-of-state license was legally valid in Michigan during the window when the 300 couples were allowed to marry; and now that Snyder has allowed those marriages to stand, this couple's license should remain valid as well.

"Brian and Bruce's rights to have Michigan recognize their marriage sprung to life upon the overturning of the Marriage Ban," Myott said. "Bruce and Brian's marriage cannot now be unrecognized."

As Morgan's health deteriorates, the couple needs protections that include hospital visitation, inheritance, and joint tax filing, their new brief contends.

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