Utah Governor announces state’s same-sex marriages will not be legally recognized

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Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s office announced that the same-sex couples who married in Utah, after US District Judge Robert Shelby struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, will not be legally recognized.

On Monday, January 6, the US Supreme Court put a hold on same-sex marriage in Utah.

As reported by the Huffington Post, on Tuesday, January 8, the chief of staff of Governor Herbert, Derek Miller, sent out the following email to Cabinet Members:

Dear Cabinet,

I’m sure you are all aware of the issuance of the stay regarding same-sex marriage in Utah from the United States Supreme Court yesterday. This stay effectively puts a hold on the decision of the district court, which found state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage in Utah to be unconstitutional.

After the district court decision was issued on Friday, December 20th, some same-sex couples availed themselves of the opportunity to marry and to the status granted by the state to married persons. This office sent an email to each of you soon after the district court decision, directing compliance.

With the district court injunction now stayed, 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.

Based on counsel from the Attorney General’s Office regarding the Supreme Court decision, 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 intent of this communication is to direct state agency compliance with current laws that prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages.

Wherever individuals are in the process of availing themselves of state services related to same-sex marital status, that process is on hold and will stay exactly in that position until a final court decision is issued. For example, if a same-sex married couple previously changed their names on new drivers licenses, those licenses should not be revoked. If a same-sex couple seeks to change their names on drivers’ licenses now, the law does not allow the state agency to recognize the marriage therefore the new drivers licenses cannot be issued.

We appreciate your patience and diligence in this matter. We recognize that different state agencies have specific questions and circumstances that will need to be worked through. Please do so with the Assistant Attorney General assigned to your respective agency in coordination with the Governor’s General Counsel. We also recognize that these changes affect real people’s lives. Let us carefully and considerately ensure that we, and our employees throughout the state, continue to treat all people with respect and understanding as we assist them.

On December 20, after Judge Shelby lifted Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, hundreds of gay couples ran to the clerk’s office to exercise their right to matrimony. In the day following, Herbert called for an Emergency Temporary Stay, attempting to halt the ruling before it was taken to the Supreme Court for an appeal. The request for a stay was denied, and same-sex couples continued to marry under the law in Utah until the Supreme Court ordered a halt of the marriages on January 6, pending appeals.

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