This past June, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision that legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states. This ruling made laws that banned same-sex marriage illegal and obsolete. The law not only affects same-sex couples in Michigan, who are now allowed to marry in the state and receive marital benefits, but it also will affect the future of Michigan law that deals with marriage.
How the Supreme Court Decision Affects Michigan
Immediately after the Supreme Court announced its decision, the Michigan law that banned same-sex marriage became obsolete. However, it did not immediately update the 199 Michigan laws that involve marriage. In addition to the numerous marriage laws, the words “wife” and “husband” are used in over 130 sections of the law. As a result of the Supreme Court decision, all of these laws and sections of law will need to be reviewed and updated by the Michigan Law Revision Commission. After reviewing each law and section, the commission will recommend how the terminology should be updated. This may mean that the terms “wife” and “husband” will become “spouse,” which is gender neutral. This would ensure that there are no questions regarding to whom the law does and does not apply. This language will also need to be changed in laws where divorce is involved.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
In addition to the textual changes that will need to be made to marriage and divorce laws, Michigan may also see a spike in proposed legislation that would prevent same-sex married couples from receiving the same rights and privileges as married men and women. For instance, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is currently pending in Michigan. If passed, this law would allow for a person to deny employment, housing, services and other actions that are against a citizen’s rights if the person claims that he or she cannot associate with the other person because it would violate his or her religious freedom. For instance, wedding planners could potentially refuse to plan weddings for same-sex couples by claiming that by doing so he or she would be violating his or her religious freedom.
Governor Rick Snyder has said he will veto the Religious Freedom Restoration Act unless the protections in Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act are extended. The Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act is a law that protects the rights of those in the LGBT community when it comes to housing and hiring. The Supreme Court’s decision has opened the doors for many same-sex couples to legalize their union; however, the coming months will be an uphill battle for the LGBT community as Michigan begins to address the legal aftermath of this decision. You will want a lawyer who knows and understands the new and amended laws surrounding marriage and divorce equality as they begin to affect society.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the complexities surrounding marriage equality in Michigan, you should seek counsel from a family law attorney who is knowledgeable in the benefits of same-sex marriage. Please do not hesitate contact The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins by calling 248-646-7980 or by completing the online intake form.