More than 300 couples were married last Saturday, a day after U.S.
District Judge Bernard Friedman lifted Michigan's same-sex marriage
ban, saying it violated the U.S. Constitution.
The state appealed the ruling later on Saturday and Michigan
Governor Rick Snyder said the newly-weds would not receive state
benefits of marriage until the matter is settled in court.
Same-sex marriage is now recognized in 17 out of the 50 states and
the District of Columbia.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement in Washington on
Friday that the marriages performed on Saturday would be recognized
by the federal government.
"These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits
on the same terms as other same-sex marriages," he said.
While their recognition by their state is in question, the couples
will have access to federal benefits including joint tax filings,
social security benefits, and legal immigration status for foreign
The Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization that
advocates for the gay community, welcomed Holder's decision.
It said in a statement he had "demonstrated his steadfast commitment
to equality and upholding the core values of the U.S. Constitution
by affirming federal recognition of these marriages."
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The Justice Department has taken similar positions to uphold federal
recognition of same-sex marriage, established by the Supreme Court
last summer in the landmark United States v. Windsor case.
In January, Holder announced the federal government would recognize
same-sex marriages in Utah, which were also under dispute.
(Writing by Doina Chiacu and Julia Edwards;
editing by David Storey
and Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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