A Farmington Hills couple who have adopted 10 children and plan to adopt three more are among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is filing to require state officials to recognize the 300 legal marriages performed during the few hours that same-sex marriage was legal last month.
Clint McCormack and Bryan Reamer are among eight couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Hours after Michigan’s voter-backed ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an emergency stay on the ruling and later extended it pending a finding on the appeal filed by Attorney General Bill Schuette. Gov. Rick Snyder acknowledged in the days following that the marriages are legal, but the state won’t recognize them until after a ruling on the appeal – the issue in the ACLU’s lawsuit.
Adoptions are among the issues that are complicated by the state’s refusal to recognize the marriages. The federal government is already recognizing the marriages as legal or the purposes of tax filings and benefits claims.
One of the Farmington Hills couple’s sons spoke Monday at a news conference announcing the ACLU lawsuit and said his family no different than any other.
“My dads have made a huge difference in my life,” Keegan McCormack, 15, said. “We go out to dinner. We laugh. We celebrate birthdays … I hate the fact that the law doesn’t see us as a real family.”
Clint McCormack said the state’s refusal to recognize his and Reamer’s marriage hurts his family and treats it differently than opposite-gender families are treated, The Detroit News reports.
“We’re just like any other couple,” McCormack said. “Like any other couple we wanted to have our love and commitment respected.”
He said that when Keegan “realized the state did not recognize our marriage he felt like the rug was pulled from under him.”
About a dozen people spoke at the news conference and talked about ways the state’s refusal to acknowledge the legal same-sex marriages has harmed them.
In his ruling, Friedman said the 2004 constitutional amendment approved by voters violates the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In announcing the lawsuit, ACLU Michigan staff attorney Jay Kaplan said the state’s refusal to recognize the marriages is unconstitutional and discriminatory. Gov. Rick Snyder and other state officials are named as defendants in the lawsuit, filed with U.S. District Court in Detroit. Snyder had a choice and his “hands were not tied,” as he contended, by the appeal.
“Simply put, once these couples were legally married in Michigan, they automatically gain protections that cannot be taken away retroactively and that those protections must be recognized regardless of the ultimate outcome of the appeal of Judge Friedman’s ruling,” Kaplan said.
He said the couples who married during the less than 24 hour period that gay marriage was legal didn’t do so on “a mere whim or desire to ‘beat the clock.’ “
“It was a decision made after years, for some couples decades, of patiently waiting for their committed loving relationship to be accorded the same dignity and recognition under law that has been accorded to opposite sex couples,” Kaplan said.
That’s the case with the lead plaintiff, Marsha Caspar, and her wife, Glenna DeJong. They were the first same-sex couple to marry in Michigan on March 22, and they have waited 27 years to tie the knot.
“Now we must wait again,” said Caspar Monday. “We now have a marriage equality Catch 22. We’re married and we’re not. We’re being treated like second class citizens just because of who we love.”The ACLU plans to file a motion seeking an injunction asking the state to legally recognize the marriages so they are able to get job benefits such as health insurance coverage and for tax purposes, adoption and estate planning.