ACLU Files Lawsuit On Behalf Of Michigan Same-Sex Couples - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

ACLU Files Lawsuit On Behalf Of Michigan Same-Sex Couples

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(WLNS) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has filed a lawsuit on behalf of eight married same-sex couples in the state.

The suit intends to ensure that the more than 300 same-sex couples who legally married on March 22nd receive legal marriage benefits which have, to this point, been denied them.

ACLU Attorney Jay Kaplan says the gay couples who did marry during the short window when same-sex marriage was legal are entitled to marriage benefits, even though a judge put a stop on the marriages one day later.

"Simply put, once these couples were legally married in Michigan, they automatically gained the protections that cannot be taken away retro-actively," Kaplan said.

The ACLU plans to seek a declaratory judgement from the court which states that denying legal marriage benefits to same-sex couples is unconstitutional. The organization also plans to file a preliminary injunction against the state to cease denying benefits to the same-sex married couples.

"The truth is state and federal marriage laws provide a safety net of legal and economic protections for married couples and their children," said Kaplan.

Two Ingham County couples have joined the suit, including Samantha Wolf and Marnee Rutledge.

Wolf, who works with the Michigan Department of Community Health, tried to arrange for Rutledge to be covered under Wolf's insurance, but was denied her request because the two are a same-sex couple.

"If we were an opposite sex couple, no problem, automatic," said Rutledge, who added she feels like a "total second class citizen."

"I was quite surprised when Governor Snyder said well they're legal but they have no legal rights," said Wolf.

"Attorneys General across the country have refused to defend this law because it violates the US constitution and we wish we had an attorney general like that," said ACLU of Michigan Legislative Director Michael J. Steinberg.

Attorney General Bill Schuette had no comment on the lawsuit. Governor Snyder's office sent the following statement in response to the suit:

As the Governor noted before, we do believe those marriages took place legally, but that the court of appeals ruling stayed the judge's ruling and therefore required the state to suspend any benefits of the marriages because it put existing Michigan law and our state's Constitution back in place. We're very sensitive to the feelings and uncertainty regarding this issue and are hoping for a swift resolution for all involved.

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