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.
- Utah will not recognize same-sex marriages
- On the EDge: Same-sex marriage isn’t dead, just on hold
- U.S. Supreme Court halts same-sex marriages in Utah
- Utah appeals to U.S. Supreme Court to halt same-sex marriages
- Tenth Circuit denies Utah’s appeal for stay on same-sex marriage ruling
- Marriage licenses issued, weddings had for same-sex couples in Washington County
- Judge denies Utah’s request for emergency stay, same-sex marriage decision
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