GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (CN) - Two U.S. citizens and the Mexican citizens they want to marry say a Michigan county unconstitutionally refused to issue them marriage licenses because one half of each couple has no Social Security number.
The federal class action claims that Kent County's demand for "documentary evidence of the reason why an applicant does not have a Social Security number" violates federal and state laws.
The two Doe couples say Kent County Clerk Mary Hollinrake's refusal to grant them marriage licenses violates the 14th Amendment, Michigan's civil rights law and the ruling of a Michigan appeals court - and they say it discriminates against Latinos, by design.
"If one or both couple seeking a marriage license does not have a Social Security number and if they do not provide one of two arbitrarily preselected reasons, along with supporting documentation, as to why they do not possess a Social Security number, then they will [be] denied a marriage license and therefore are prohibited from becoming married in Kent County," the class claims.
"Further, this policy and procedure illegally discriminates against individual[s] based upon their race and national origin, specifically Hispanics, many of whom reside in Kent County and do not have Social Security numbers[,] which constitutes a violation of their rights under Michigan's Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act."
The marriage license application contains an "Affidavit for not Providing Social Security Number on Affidavit for License to Marry," under which the couples, or individuals, have "to provide the reason why they do not possess a Social Security number."
The complaint adds: "of all persons residing in Kent County who are not U.S. citizens, Hispanics constitute 64.2 percent. Accordingly, the effect of defendants' policy is to discriminate against Hispanics and to deny them their fundamental right to marry."
Kent County, in western Michigan, describes itself as a center of agriculture, auto manufacturing and furniture making.
The class seeks declaratory judgment, an injunctions, costs and damages.
Lead counsel for the class is Robert Alvarez with the Law Offices of Jose Sandoval of Wyoming, Mich.