Kent County Clerk Makes Deal With Gay Couple To Avoid Suit

By BTL Staff

Grand Rapids, MI -- MLive recently reported that Kent County clerk and register of deeds, Mary Hollinrake, won't have to defend a federal lawsuit brought by a gay couple who said her office refused to recognize their out-of-state marriage.

The couple, Bruce Morgan and Brian Merucci, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids against Gov. Rick Synder and Hollinrake following her office's refusal to record the couple's licenses as valid in Michigan. Together for seven years, the couple married in New York last year, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2011.

A joint stipulation between Hollinrake and the plantiffs found that the former is required to follow Michigan law and constitutional provisions until those laws or provisions are repealed or a court finds them unconstitutional. The agreement said "Therefore, the parties hereto stipulate and agreed that defendant Mary Hollinrake, in her capacity as Kent County Register of Deeds and County Clerk, shall remain a party to his action to be bound by this court's decision but shall not be required to actively participate in the litigation."

The couple's suit was initially reported in April, shortly after the March case which found Michigan's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. 300 same-sex couples married before a stay was issued. The governor said the same-sex marriages that took place before the ruling was stayed were valid, but Michigan would not recognize them pending a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Morgan and Merucci's lawsuit noted that Snyder hasn't addressed the validity of out-of-state marriage licenses in Michigan yet.


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