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LANSING (Detroit Free Press) -- Gov. Rick Snyder said the nearly 300 same-sex marriages performed on Saturday are legal but won't be recognized by the state because of a stay put on a judicial decision that Michigan's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

"With respect to the marriages, we believe those are legal and valid marriages," he told reporters on Wednesday. "The stay being issued makes it more complicated.

"Because of the stay, we won't recognize the benefits of the marriage until there's a removal of the stay," he added.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to provide some clarity, at least from our perspective, relatively soon."

About 300 same-sex couples got married in four Michigan counties on Saturday after a Friday ruling by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman in Detroit declared the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Attorney General Bill Schuette appealed the ruling to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which halted the marriages with a temporary stay late Saturday, which was extended on Wednesday, possibly into next year when the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to deal with the issue.

Snyder's announcement drew swift criticism from Democrats and advocates for same-sex marriage.

"You can't have it both ways!" tweeted state Rep. Kate Segal, D-Battle Creek.

"Someone should remind the governor that there was no stay in place on Saturday when couples were married," said East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett. "His position is indefensible."

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, who opened her office Saturday to issue licenses and perform marriages for same-sex couples, said: "It is disappointing to have a governor who continues to discriminate against citizens of our state by refusing to extend rights to legally married couples.

"Gov. Snyder continues to waste taxpayer dollars pursuing an appeal," she said. "The state has shown that it has no case. Gov. Snyder has the power to end this discrimination. A real leader for our state would drop this case altogether."

Snyder again deflected questions about his own views on same-sex marriage, saying he wanted to focus on jobs and the economy.

But many who support same-sex marriage say it is an economic issue because polls show young people and highly educated people are more supportive of it. They say banning same-sex marriage hurts Michigan's ability to attract the best and brightest.

Asked about that on Thursday, Snyder said, "There's always economic issues associated with most everything but ... my primary focus is on job creation and the overall economy."

Thanks but no thanks @onetoughnerd. You can't have it both ways! — Kate Segal (@KateSegal) March 26, 2014

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com

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