Politics & Government
5:07 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Ingham County trying to protect the property rights of gay couples

There’s a new effort to protect the property rights of same-sex couples in Michigan.

Currently, Michigan law only allows a spouse to inherit property in the absence of a will.  Michigan's constitution prohibits same sex marriage.   

But Ingham County is now recognizing out-of-state marriage licenses or affidavits from gay couples.  The county’s Register of Deeds says including the documents will help protect the property rights of same-sex couples.  

Lansing city clerk Chris Swope and his husband Bradley Rakowski submitted their Canadian marriage license to the county today.

“Technically, we each own half of our property,” says Swope,  “If we were a married couple, we would both jointly own the whole property.  So it’s a different form of ownership than we are able to achieve….we’re attempting to achieve through this document.”

Rakowski says right now his partner's distant cousins have more rights to Swope's estate than he does.

“How can anybody look at that situation and say that is fair?” asks Rakowski.

It’s unclear if Michigan’s courts will recognize the documents. 

Michigan voters approved a ban on same sex unions in 2004, though recent polls show a majority of Michiganders now support gay marriage. 

It’s unclear if Michigan’s courts will recognize the documents as a legal way to protect the property rights of gay couples.

Michigan voters approved a ban on same-sex unions in 2004.   But recent polls show a majority of Michiganders now support gay marriage.