Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced Wednesday that the state will not recognize gay marriages performed since Dec. 20 pending a final ruling by the courts.
U.S district judge Robert Shelby ruled on Dec. 20 that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Consequently, an appeal was lodged by the state to overturn the ruling and the Supreme Court suspended same-sex marriages in Utah until the matter is heard and determined.
“The original laws governing marriage in Utah are back to effect pending final resolution by the courts,” a memo from the governor’s office said.
Essentially, what this means is that those gay/lesbian couples who were in the process of obtaining a marriage license, applying for benefits or adopting children will have to wait until a ruling is made.
However, those who had finalized their marriages will still retain their marriage rights. Paul Smith, an appeals lawyer said the law can’t undo relationships in which marriage licenses had been obtained and weddings performed.
Missy Larsen, Utah’s Attorney General spokeswoman said that those couples who have not yet had weddings will also not be recognized even if they have gotten marriage licenses.
“The ceremony had to have taken place. It had to have been solemnized,” Larsen said.
The 10-bench Supreme Court judges ruled Monday that given the state’s appeal same-sex marriages could not continue during the period of the hearing.
Salt Lake County clerk Sherrie Swensen mentioned that 1,061 marriage licenses had been issued in Salt Lake County between Dec. 20 and Monday and the majority of them comprised of same-sex marriages. She is now trying to see if a refund can be issued to couples that bought licenses but are now not able to use them.
Though same-sex marriages are slowly becoming legal nationwide, Utah is still one of 33 states in the U.S. that has outlawed gay couples the right to be married.
Utah’s decision has left some couples who were in the process of wedding in distress, especially those who had already incurred wedding expenses and made logistical arrangements for the events.
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