MALDEF Files Class Action Suit Against Ottawa County For Refusing Michigan Latino Couple The Fundamental Right To Marry

MALDEF and Avanti Law Group attorneys challenge Ottawa County’s violation of the 14th Amendment and Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act

May 11, 2010

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Today, MALDEF Midwest Regional Counsel Ricardo Meza announced the filing of a federal class action lawsuit against Ottawa County and Ottawa County Clerk Daniel C. Krueger for refusing to permit a Latino couple their fundamental right to marry. The Ottawa County Clerk’s office under the supervision of County Clerk Krueger has a policy of denying marriage licenses to individuals who do not possess a social security number. MALDEF filed the suit on behalf of Juana and Juan Doe and other similarly situated individuals in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division.

MALDEF Regional Counsel Ricardo Meza stated, "All persons, regardless of immigration status, have the constitutional right to marry."

In the complaint, plaintiffs allege that the policies and actions of defendants Krueger and Ottawa County violate the plaintiffs’ and all other similarly situated individuals’ constitutionally protected rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The complaint further alleges that Defendants’ policies and actions violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution by impermissibly regulating the federal government’s power over immigration and foreign affairs. In addition, plaintiffs allege the defendants’ policy and practice unlawfully discriminates against plaintiffs and all other similarly situated individuals based upon their race and national origin in violation of Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act, M.C.L.A. § 37.2101.

MALDEF Staff Attorney Alejandro Aixala noted that Defendant "County Clerk Krueger's refusal to issue a marriage license because a person does not have a valid social security number is inconsistent with a March 19, 2008 Michigan Attorney General Opinion issued by Mike Cox."

According to the 2008 opinion, "a county clerk may issue a marriage license to an applicant who fails to provide his or her social security number on the application if the person has never been issued a social security number."

The Plaintiffs in this matter are also represented by Robert Anthony Alvarez and James L. Betzold of the Avanti Law Group. Mr. Alvarez recently filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of Latinos in Kent County, Michigan against County Clerk Mary Hollinrake.

To see the text of the complaint against Ottawa County, click here:

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund