United by love, law: U.S. recognizes same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage being recognized across the nation is a huge step forward, but to Director of LGBTQ Services, Shannon Joliff, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the rights of the LGBTQ community in Michigan.
"We should all take time to celebrate, but after that we need to get back to the drawing board and see what lack of protection still exists in the LGBTQ community," she said.
Marriage equality became a constitutional right in United States on June 26 after the Supreme Court revoked states bans on same-sex marriages, declaring them unconstitutional.
Cindy Seger and Jane Gilmore, who have been together for 15 years, became the first same-sex couple to be married in Isabella County. The couple exchanged vows on the lawn of the courthouse while two other same-sex couples looked on. Seger and Gilmore signed their marriage license inside and were recognized by Isabella County Clerk, Minde Lux.
"It almost doesn't feel real," Seger said. "We were wondering what would happen and then my dad called at 10 this morning. All of our kids starting calling, saying 'finally.'"
Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia allowed same-sex marriage before the ruling. Eleven states had policies in place allowing same-sex marriage rights.
On June 11 Gov. Rick Snyder signed a package of bills, including a new law, which allows faith-based adoption groups to refuse service to same-sex and unmarried couples. It is unclear how the Supreme Court decision impacts these and other recent changes in Michigan law.
“Same-sex marriage has been a divisive issue in Michigan and across our country," Snyder said. "Recognizing that there are strong feelings on both sides, it is important for everyone to respect the judicial process and the decision today from the U.S. Supreme Court. Our state government will follow the law and our state agencies will make the necessary changes to ensure that we will fully comply."
The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling will allow same-sex spouses to receive survivor benefits under social security, estate benefits and make medical decisions for their partners. Supreme Court mandates are typically issued 25 days after ruling.
The case came to the Supreme Court after several lower courts overturned states bans on gay marriage. Michigan Attorney General, Bill Schuette, an opponent of same-sex marriage said the state will honor the Supreme Court's ruling.
"We will honor, respect and uphold the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States," Schuette said. "We are appreciative that a decision finally has been reached in this very significant issue."