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Gay marriage ban rulings put Michigan couples in limbo

– Bethany Joy Rozeboom and Mary Winn couldn’t have been much happier after receiving their long-awaited marriage license this weekend after a judge’s ruling that Michigan’s ban on such same-sex unions was illegal.

But the Grand Rapids couple and others across Michigan were still waiting Monday to be recognized as legally married on state driver’s licenses, voter registration records, Social Security cards and other documents – because the ruling has been put on hold while the state appeals.

Some couples were able to file applications for adoptions and federal tax documents, but they fear the process may be hampered by the legal tussle, while similar efforts at state offices were thwarted.

“I feel like it’s been a constant yo-yo, even this whole weekend,” Rozeboom said after being denied an application Monday for a new driver’s license at a Michigan Secretary of State Office branch in Grand Rapids.

“Walking out and having a legal marriage license that was signed by a clerk, we felt this is as official as it gets. This felt like we can be done now. But we can’t be done now. Now what?”

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the state’s 2004 law banning same-sex marriages Friday while deciding a 2012 lawsuit by Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer.

The couple are raising three adopted children with special needs, but they couldn’t jointly adopt each other’s children because that was tied exclusively to marriage in Michigan.

On Saturday morning, four county clerks began issuing marriage licenses before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati issued an order reinstating Michigan’s ban. Rozeboom and Winn took advantage of the brief legal window and had their marriage officiated.

The appeals court froze Friedman’s decision until at least Wednesday, saying the time-out will “allow a more reasoned consideration” of the state’s request to stop same-sex marriages.

Updated voter registrations and insurance policies are also on hold, as are legal adoptions by same-sex couples.

Cheryl Pine turned in her application paperwork in Oakland County on Monday to join Jenny Stanczyk in adopting their two children. The couple became foster parents of the children four years ago, but Stanczyk was the only one legally allowed to adopt them a year later.

Pine said the staff was “incredibly and supportive and gracious” and accepted her application.

“They said, ‘We don’t really know what’s going to happen because this is all so new ... but you should hear from somebody within the next week or two,’ ” said Pine, who married Stanczyk in 2011 in Iowa and learned Saturday that it’s “accepted and valid” by the county clerk’s office in Michigan.

Stanczyk said getting the adoption squared away is the most important thing for them and updating information with tax, driver’s license and voting information with state and federal offices is “secondary.”

She said their adoption issue is the same that led to the lawsuit filed by DeBoer and Rowse.

“It was about equal rights for their kids,” Stanczyk said.