LANSING (AP.WWJ) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he respects a federal appeals court’s decision to uphold the gay marriage ban in Michigan and three other states.

Snyder said Thursday that his obligation to “support and defend our state constitution” has no exceptions and “is not a matter of personal preference.”

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“The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the language in our state’s constitution,” Snyder said in a statement Thursday. “This means there is no change in Michigan’s marriage laws. As I have previously stated, the same-sex couples who married at county clerk offices in the period between U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman’s ruling in March and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ temporary stay of that ruling, were legally married.”

Michigan voters banned gay marriage in 2004, but Detroit federal Judge Bernard Friedman declared the constitutional amendment illegal last March. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Freidman’s ruling Thursday in a 2-1 ruling.

“However, the Court of Appeals decision does not allow for state benefits of marriage for those same-sex couples in accordance with our state constitution. That decision only can be changed if today’s Appeals Court ruling is overturned,” the statement said.

Snyder, a Republican who keeps mostly silent on social issues, said in 2010 he supported marriage as “between a man and a woman.”

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Attorney General Bill Schuette defended the ban in Friedman’s court. He supports the Supreme Court settling the issue — “for Michigan and the country.”

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