Friday, January 10, 2014

Utah Gay Marriages Will Be Recognized By Federal Government, Attorney General Says

The federal government will recognize marriages performed in Utah after a judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, Attorney General Holder said Friday, noting that the newly-wedded gay couples “should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status” as the legal challenges unfold.

Holder’s announcement comes two days after Utah ordered its state offices not to do anything that would acknowledge the more than 1,000 same-sex marriages performed in the state over a nearly three-week period after a federal judge struck down the ban on Dec. 20.
The Supreme Court ordered a stay on those weddings Monday while the state challenges the judge’s ruling.

"I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages," Holder said. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert earlier this week directed state agencies not to take any further action to honor the recently issued marriage licenses. In a memo to state officials, his chief of staff, Derek Miller, said there was doubt that the marriages were legally valid after the U.S. Supreme Court has put a hold on the effect of a judge's ruling.

"State recognition of same-sex marital status is ON HOLD until further notice. Please understand this position is not intended to comment on the legal status of those same-sex marriages — that is for the courts to decide," the memo said.

The directive came as a blow to many newlyweds, who won't be able to file joint state tax returns or proceed with second-parent adoptions.

A deadline has been set for the end of February for briefs to be filed in the case.

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