Federal government announces it will recognize Utah’s same-sex marriages

SALT LAKE CITY – While the Utah state government through its officials has announced, following a stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, that it currently will not recognize same-sex marriages performed in the state, the federal government announced Friday that it will.

U.S Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement in a video.

“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 in the video. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”

Over 1,300 same-sex marriages were performed between Dec. 20, 2013, and Jan. 6. Federal District Court Judge Robert Shelby struck down Utah’s Amendment 3, which bans gay marriage, as unconstitutional. On Jan. 6, following requests by the state to have a stay, or hold, put on Shelby’s ruling pending appeal – which were denied by lower courts – the U.S. Supreme Court approved the stay. This action has, for the moment, put Amendment 3 in place as state law.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbart, with the advisement of the Utah attorney general’s office, has chosen not to recognize same-sex marriages performed between Dec. 20, 2013, and Jan. 6. While benefits allowed to married couples from the state are currently not available to same-sex married couples, federal benefits are.

The Human Rights Council, one of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups, praised the news. Chad Griffin, the group’s president, had sent a letter to Holder Thursday asking the federal government to recognize those marriages.

“These 1,360 Utah couples are married, plain and simple, and they should be afforded every right and responsibility of marriage,” Griffin said following the news. “Attorney General Eric Holder has once again shown the kind of leadership that earns you a spot in the history books. This is only the beginning of this fight, and this work continues until marriage equality returns to Utah for good, and full equality reaches every American in all 50 states.”

While organizations like the conservative Sutherland Institute are filing amicus, friend-of-the-court, briefs with the court, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is currently staying out of the state’s fight to preserve Amendment 3, according to Fox 13 News.

The LDS Church has filed amicus briefs in the past related to same-sex marriage cases, and could still do so in the future.

Holder’s entire statement can be read below. The video can be viewed here.

Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement today on the status of same-sex marriages performed in the state of Utah:

Last June, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision – in United States v. Windsor – holding that Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law.  This ruling marked a historic step toward equality for all American families.  And since the day it was handed down, the Department of Justice has been working tirelessly to implement it in both letter and spirit—moving to extend—federal benefits to married same-sex couples as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

Recently, an administrative step by the Court has cast doubt on same-sex marriages that have been performed in the state of Utah.  And the governor has announced that the state will not recognize these marriages pending additional Court action.

In the meantime, 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.  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 in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.  And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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6 Comments

  • D Hodja January 10, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Hoping Utah’s moral majority quickly gets on the right side of history unlike what it did over civil rights in the 60’s and 70’s. And forever wondering how it could be possible that god is at the helm when positions shift and swing so dramatically, but also last.

  • Craig January 10, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    “…the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is currently staying out of the state’s fight to preserve Amendment 3, according to Fox 13 News.”

    Thanks for the laugh. They may be low key and quiet, but they are not staying our of the fight. They are currently consulting with the rocks in their hats.

  • Mike January 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Still not one person from the gay society has said which rights that I have, that they do not. Why? Because there is not a single one.

    • Craig January 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      A legal marriage would give gays and lesbians the same rights and considerations as heterosexual couples…here is a partial list:

      Joint parental rights of children
      Joint adoption
      Status as “next-of-kin” for hospital visits and medical decisions
      Right to make a decision about the disposal of loved ones remains
      Immigration and residency for partners from other countries
      Crime victims recovery benefits
      Domestic violence protection orders
      Judicial protections and immunity
      Automatic inheritance in the absence of a will
      Joint filing of tax returns
      Tax credits including: Child tax credit, Hope and lifetime learning credits
      Deferred Compensation for pension and IRAs
      Estate and gift tax benefits
      Welfare and public assistance
      Joint housing for elderly
      Credit protection
      I’m sure there are more. Giving Gays and lesbians the right to marry would even the playing field. There is no reason to deny someone the right to marry, and why would anyone want to deny equality to someone else? There is no rational reason for not wanting equality.
      Gays and lesbians are here to stay. They pay their fair share of taxes. Why aren’t they receiving their fair share of the benefits afforded heterosexual couples? Again, there is no rational reason for them being short changed.

  • Simone January 11, 2014 at 3:14 am

    I love your comment Craig. <3

  • Mike January 11, 2014 at 8:50 am

    The key word is “couples”. Would you agree that individual rights between gays and hetero’s are exactly the same? They have the same rights, but want to change laws to better meet their lifestyle. I wish I could change laws to better meet my lifestyle.

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