John M. Becker

4 Michigan Counties Issuing Marriage Licenses Today

Filed By John M. Becker | March 22, 2014 1:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Ann Arbor, gay marriage, marriage equality, marriage license, Michigan, Muskegon County, Oakland County, same-sex marriage, waiting period, Washtenaw County

michigan-marriage-equality.jpgAfter yesterday's ruling from U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman legalizing same-gender marriage in Michigan effective immediately, officials in at least three Michigan counties -- Oakland, Muskegon and Washtenaw -- announced that they're not waiting until the resumption of normal business hours on Monday to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Instead, unless an emergency stay of Judge Friedman's ruling is granted, they will open today -- Saturday, March 22 -- to issue licenses.

UPDATE: there are now four counties issuing marriage licenses. Ingham County has joined the list. See below.

Under Michigan law, a marriage license costs $20 and at least one spouse has to be a resident of the county where the couple applies for the license. There is a three-day waiting period, but it can be waived for an additional fee at the discretion of the County Clerk.

All three counties reportedly plan to waive the waiting period, and either reduce or completely eliminate the additional fee.

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown announced via Twitter that her office will be open for four hours today:

WZZM-13 reports on the situation in Muskegon County:

Muskegon County Clerk Nancy Waters will issue a wedding license Saturday to a gay couple getting married at the Harbor Universalist Congregational Church. UU Minister Rev. Bill Freeman says Waters will give marriage licenses to anyone who shows up. Freeman says, "I'm ready to perform as many same-sex weddings as is humanly possible."

Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation is located at 1296 Montgomery Avenue in Muskegon.

In Washtenaw County, home to the city of Ann Arbor, the county administrator, clerk, sheriff, and several commissioners made the decision Friday night to open Saturday. And they decided, just this once, to lower the fee for skipping the three-day waiting period from $50 to $0.01.

The county will issue up to 60 marriage licenses today, according to Clerk Lawrence Kestenbaum.

"As far as we're concerned, we're abiding by the federal court appellates," Kestenbaum said. "We're not typically open, but basically the Board of Commissioners strongly urged me to be open [Saturday]."

"I wasn't expecting the ruling would go into effect immediately and I know there's going to be attempts to get a stay, but I'm assuming there won't be one by [Saturday]," Kestenbaum said. "If there is, then I'll stop."

The Ingham County Clerk's office is open this morning and issuing marriage licenses as well. MLive reports:

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum had planned to perform marriages and issue licenses first thing Monday morning, but after tweeting that she could not sleep Friday night, Byrum announced plans to open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

"Too many loving, deserving couples have been forced to sit on the sidelines while Attorney General Bill Schuette panders to his extreme base and that's why I'm opening my office today," Byrum said in a statement.

"Within moments of Judge Friedman's ruling, my staff and I began preparing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. I look forward to marrying all loving couples in Ingham County and I am so honored to share this historic day full of love with our community."

Readers: if you're in a same-sex couple, you live in Ingham, Oakland, Muskegon, or Washtenaw Counties, and you're ready to get married, allow me to humbly suggest that you get down today -- AS SOON AS YOU CAN -- to your county clerk's office and apply for that marriage license!

It's much harder to undo marriages that are legal at the time they were performed, so it is vitally important to have as many couples marry as quickly as possible. Furthermore, a stay of Judge Friedman's ruling could come at any time, which would put further marriages on hold.


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