Although many same-sex couples now hold official marriages licenses in Utah, Republican Governor Gary Herbert denied recognizing these same-sex unions on Wednesday, continuing to limit marriage to one man and one woman in his socially conservative state.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Brandon Mark, who was married after the December ruling. “I’m assuming we’re going to get no resolution on the question of whether our marriage is valid until the Supreme Court rules on this issue.”
Today, however, the Obama administration said that it would recognize the marriages of the 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah that have been denied.
The announcement was made by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. via a video posted on the Justice Department’s website.
“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,” Mr. Holder said. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”
He continued, “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds. In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled – regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.”
According to the New York Times, on December 20, Robert J. Shelby, a Federal Court Judge, ruled that Utah’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman violated the federal Constitution.
Following, the state government asked a higher court to block the order, but a federal appeals court denied the request and the same-sex marriages continued. However, on Monday, the Surpreme Court issued a stay, blocking further same-sex marriages while state officials appealed a decision to allow such unions.
This is when Governor Herbert stepped forward, saying that his state would not recognize the same-sex marriage licenses that had previously gone through.
In a memo to state officials, the chief of staff to Herbert wrote: “The original laws governing marriage in Utah return to effect pending final resolution by the courts. It is important to understand that those laws include not only a prohibition of performing same-sex marriages but also recognizing same-sex marriages.”
But Mr. Holder has worked “tirelessly” for equality and to “implement it in both letter and spirit.”
Today Holder, the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, said, “In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled — regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”
Image via Wikimedia Commons