Same-sex marriage is legal in the U.S. state of Michigan and all other U.S. states as per the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015. The state had banned recognition of same-sex unions in any form since a 2004 popular vote added an amendment to the State Constitution. Previously, a statute enacted in 1996 banned both the licensing of same-sex marriages and the recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.
On March 21, 2014, a U.S. District Court ruled the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples unconstitutional. More than 300 same-sex couples married in Michigan the next day before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed enforcement of the district court decision. On November 6, the Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court's ruling and upheld Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage. The state was ordered to recognize the 323 marriages performed on March 22, and the state announced it would not appeal that order.
In June 1995, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 88-14 to ban same-sex marriage in the state, while the Michigan State Senate voted 31-2 in favor of the ban. Also in June, the Michigan House approved, in a 74-28 vote, a bill banning recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages. The Michigan Senate also approved this bill. Governor John Engler signed both bills into law.
Main article: Michigan Proposal 04-2
In 2004, voters approved a constitutional amendment, Michigan Proposal 04-2, that banned same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state. It passed with 58.6% of the vote. The Michigan Supreme Court later ruled that public employers in Michigan could not grant domestic partnership benefits given the restrictions imposed by the amendment.
Main article: DeBoer v. Snyder
On January 23, 2012, a lesbian couple filed a lawsuit, DeBoer v. Snyder, in federal district court, challenging the state's ban on adoption by same-sex couples seeking to jointly adopt their children. In August 2012, Judge Bernard A. Friedman invited the couple to amend their suit to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage, "the underlying issue". On March 7, 2013, Friedman announced that he would delay ruling pending the outcome of two same-sex marriage cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. Friedman held a trial from February 25 to March 7, 2014. On March 21, he ruled for the plaintiffs, ending Michigan's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette immediately filed an emergency motion requesting a stay of the ruling.
Four of Michigan's 83 county clerks opened their offices on Saturday, March 22, to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: Barb Byrum of Ingham County, Nancy Waters of Muskegon County, Lisa Brown of Oakland County, and Lawrence Kestenbaum of Washtenaw County. The four counties issued 323 same-sex marriage licenses that day. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, temporarily stayed enforcement of Friedman's ruling that same day, and stayed the ruling indefinitely on March 25. On March 28, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Federal Government recognizes the validity of the same-sex marriages licensed on March 22.
On November 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court's ruling and upheld Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.
The case was later incorporated into Obergefell v. Hodges and decided along with several other Sixth Circuit court cases related to the legality of state bans on same-sex marriage. On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs and legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country.
Eight same-sex couples represented by the ACLU filed suit in U.S. district court on July 25, 2014, seeking recognition of their so-called "window marriages" established on March 21 and 22, 2014, before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a district court ruling–later reversed–in DeBoer v. Snyder that found Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The state had asked the district court to suspend proceedings pending final resolution of DeBoer or to find those marriages invalid. On January 15, 2015, U.S. District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith ruled that the state must recognize those marriages, but stayed implementation of his ruling for 21 days. He wrote: "In these circumstances, what the state has joined together, it may not put asunder." On February 4, Governor Rick Snyder announced that the state would recognize those marriages and would not appeal the decision.
In January 2015, pastor Neil Patrick Carrick of Detroit brought a case, Carrick v. Snyder, against Michigan, stating that the state's ban of same-sex marriage and polygamy violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The case was dismissed in February 2016.
2018 estimates from the United States Census Bureau showed that there were about 27,000 same-sex households in Michigan. The Bureau estimated that 60% of these couples were married.
In May 2008, the Michigan Supreme Court held that the amendment added to the State Constitution in 2004 bans not only same-sex marriage and civil unions, but also public employee domestic partnership benefits such as health insurance. The ruling, however, had little effect since most public employers relaxed their eligibility criteria to avoid violating the amendment's restrictions.
On September 15, 2011, the Michigan House of Representatives, in a 64-44 vote, approved a bill that would ban most public employers, though not colleges and universities, from offering health benefits to the domestic partners of their employees. It did not apply to workers whose benefits are established by the Michigan Civil Service Commission. On December 7, 2011, the Michigan State Senate, in a 27-9 vote, approved of the bill. On December 22, 2011, Governor Rick Snyder signed the legislation. Five same-sex couples challenged the law in Bassett v. Snyder. On June 28, 2013, U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its law banning local governments and school districts from offering health benefits to their employees' domestic partners. He wrote: "It is hard to argue with a straight face that the primary purpose—indeed, perhaps the sole purpose—of the statute is other than to deny health benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees. But that can never be a legitimate governmental purpose". He rejected the state's arguments that "fiscal responsibility" was the law's rationale. On February 14, 2014, the state asked him to lift that preliminary injunction, repeating its arguments about the "fiscal insecurity of local governments" and eliminating "irrational and unfair" local programs. On November 12, 2014, Judge Lawson issued a permanent injunction barring the state from enforcing this law.
While there are no statewide recognition, these local governments recognize domestic partnerships:
|% support||% opposition||% no opinion||% refused|
|Public Religion Research Institute||April 5-December 23, 2017||2,348||?||63%||29%||8%||-|
|American Values Atlas/Public Religion Research Institute||May 18, 2016-January 10, 2017||2,997||?||56%||36%||8%||-|
|American Values Atlas/Public Religion Research Institute||April 29, 2015-January 7, 2016||2,379||?||54%||38%||8%||-|
|New York Times/CBS News/YouGov||September 20-October 1, 2014||2,560 likely voters||± 2.4%||47%||39%||14%||-|
|EPIC-MRA||September 25–29, 2014||600 adults||± 4%||47%||47%||6%||-|
|EPIC-MRA||May 17–20, 2014||600 likely voters||± 4%||47%||46%||7%||-|
|American Values Atlas/Public Religion Research Institute||April 2, 2014-January 4, 2015||1,670||?||55%||37%||5%||-|
|Marketing Resource Group of Lansing||March 2014||?||?||45%||50%||5%||-|
|State of the State Survey||December 16, 2013 – February 10, 2014||1,008 adults||± 3.1%||54%||36%||-||-|
|Glengariff Group Inc.||January 29-February 1, 2014||600 likely voters||± 4%||56.2%||33.8%||-||-|
|Glengariff Group Inc.||May 8–10, 2013||600 voters||± 4%||56.8%||37.6%||5.6%||-|
|EPIC-MRA||May 2013||600 likely voters||± 4%||51%||41%||8%||-|
|State of the State Survey||June 12-August 13, 2012||1,015 adults||?||56%||39%||5%||-|
|Public Policy Polling||May 24–27, 2012||500 voters||± 4.4%||41%||45%||14%||-|
|Glengariff Group Inc.||May 10–11, 2012||600 likely voters||± 4%||44.3%||43.7%||11%||1%|
|Public Policy Polling||July 21–24, 2011||593 voters||± 4%||33%||53%||14%||-|
|Glengariff Group Inc.||January 2011||?||?||38.5%||50.2%||11.3%||-|
|State of the State Survey||2010||?||?||48%||51%||1%||-|
|Glengariff Group Inc.||October 2004||?||?||24%||61%||15%||-|