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Judge: Mich. same-sex couples who married last year are legal

"What the state of Michigan has joined together it may not put asunder," a federal judge said.

By Frances Burns
Judge: Mich. same-sex couples who married last year are legal
Plaintiffs celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court rulings last year on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8..UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

DETROIT, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The same-sex couples who tied the knot in Michigan on the one day they could legally wed have the same rights as other married couples, a judge said.

In his ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said it does not matter that a federal appeals court has upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The appellate decision, which applies to three other states, differs from rulings by other circuits that states cannot bar gay couples from marriage, a discrepancy expected to be resolved eventually by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Goldsmith stayed his ruling for three weeks. But the said the state cannot undo the marriages without "some compelling interest."

"In these circumstances, what the state of Michigan has joined together it may not put asunder," he said, echoing the words of the traditional Anglican marriage service.

About 300 same-sex couples are believed to have married on March 22, 2014, after another federal judge ruled the state's ban was unconstitutional.

Attorney General Bill Schuette urged the U.S. Supreme Court to move quickly on the issue in a statement saying Michigan is trying to decide whether to appeal Goldsmith's ruling: "We are reviewing Judge Goldsmith's decision but as I have said repeatedly, the sooner the United States Supreme Court makes a decision on this issue the better it will be for Michigan and America."

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