Utah won’t recognize same-sex marriages

SALT LAKE CITY – It was announced Wednesday that the state of Utah will not recognize same-sex marriages performed in the state, pending its appeal of a federal district court ruling that struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.

Over 1,000 same-sex marriages were performed across Utah between Dec. 20, when the original ruling occurred and Jan. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay, or pause, on the lower court’s ruling while Utah appeals its case. This put an immediate pause on same-sex marriages being performed in the state and effectively re-established, for the time being, Amendment 3 as state law once again.

In the words of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, it has also left same-sex marriages in the state in a state of “legal limbo.” Initially unsure with what to do about the marriages that have already taken place, both the attorney general and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert released statements Wednesday announcing the state will currently not recognize those marriages.

“The stay means that Utah’s laws defining marriage, including Amendment 3, are again in effect and the county clerks in all of Utah’s 29 counties, since the entry of the stay on Jan. 6, are unable to issue licenses to marry persons of the same sex,” Reyes said in a statement.

“The state can neither recognize nor confer new marital benefits,” he said. “While the ultimate validity of such marriages is subject to the decision of a higher court, it is clear that the state is bound by law to limit any benefits attaching after the stay.”

Utah’s Amendment 3 defines marriage as being between one man and one woman only, and does not recognize any other union.

Herbert sent a letter to state agencies directing them to put recognition of same-sex marriages on hold.

“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,” Herbert said in the statement. “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.”

While benefits afforded to married couples in the state have been put on hold for now married same-sex couples in the state, those marriages themselves are not considered invalidated. They can still be recognized in other states – just not the one they originated in.

Marriage equality advocates are not pleased with the state’s direction.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision harms hundreds of Utah families and denies them the respect and basic protections that they deserve as legally married couples,” Griffin said.

“Gov. Herbert has once again planted himself firmly on the side of discrimination by preserving the second-class status he believes gay and lesbian Utahans merit,” he said. “These families deserve better and I have no doubt the courts will soon grant them the justice and equality that our Constitution demands.”

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

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


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  • Mike January 8, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    Now the gays feel the same way the majority of Utahns felt when judge Shelby disregarded our vote banning gay marriage.

    • Joey Long January 8, 2014 at 8:39 pm

      You’re a moron. It is absolutely not the same thing.

    • AntiIdiots January 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Mike, I’d love to hear when you decided to be “straight” so that others can start to persecute you for making this personal decision. Your comment is as idiotic as the Governer’s letter.

    • skip2maloo January 9, 2014 at 9:58 am

      But you didn’t lose your access to state and federal services. Important diff, I’d say.

      • Mike January 9, 2014 at 12:10 pm

        Gays have the same rights as heterosexuals. A gay guy can marry a women just like every other guy. A gay women can marry a man just like all women. Gay marriage supporters are always comparing this issue to slavery, civil rights etc. they HAVE the same rights as everyone else.

        • Amanda January 9, 2014 at 1:39 pm

          I agree with you Mike.

          • Jon R. Cocktoasten January 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm

            Me too!!! GO Mile!!!

          • Jon R. Cocktoasten January 9, 2014 at 1:59 pm

            Wow, skip2maloo… I have no idea what you said, but I like it… Joyce, there will always be some grammar/spelling nazi out there. I know you and your staff do all you can to write stories as accurate and correct as you can. That’s whats great about this website! It’s run by people, not computers! Love it!!! Keep up the good work!

  • bUB January 8, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Am I the only one who’s surprised that there is actually 1000 gay couples in the state???

    • Casper January 8, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      “are” The correct grammar would be ….that there are actually 1000 gay couples…..

  • JamesB January 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    How about the Government issues Civil Union licenses to both same sex and opposite sex couples and then religious institutions can have marriage ceremonies for whomever they choose if they choose. The Civil Union license would give both types of couples equality in every way that the government is concerned. Get the Government out of the marriage debate. I think it will come to something like this eventually.

    • real life January 8, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Now that is a great idea James. Get the government AND the church out of this. I am not a big govt. guy or a big church goer but am for marriage between a man and a woman. I see no problem between a civil union.

    • Joey Long January 8, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      The thing is, religions (Christianity in particular) do not own the word “marriage” or have the rights to define what it is or isn’t. Marriage has been around long before the Bible was even written (otherwise, how would the folks in the Bible know to ask Jesus what he thought marriage should be, if it didn’t already exist? Not to mention they didn’t speak English, so it wasn’t even called “marriage”). But, if making ALL unions ‘civil unions’ is the only way to reach equality in this country, then so be it…let the fanatics argue about a word. The point is equal protection and recognition under the law; that includes terminology.

    • skip2maloo January 9, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Yup. As long as this plan eradicates any government-provided services for these unions, with children or without.

  • Gretchen January 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I have never been more ashamed to be a resident of Utah.

    This is absolutely disgusting. What a shame and a sham.

    LIVE AND LET LIVE!!! There are people who actually WANT and need others to interfere in their lives so they can be safe and happy and healthy. Marriage equality does NOT fall into that category.

    Come on, Utah, there are REAL problems in our state. We have child abuse, spousal abuse, neglect, homelessness, severe hunger, depression, anxiety, and so much more. Let’s put our energy into something GREAT!!

  • Not a Joseph Smith follow January 8, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I find it funny that this so called state of ours…was founded by people that were chased out or the east coast for following there beliefs. But this state can’t seem to let other people believe in what they believe in. This is why I’m no longer a Mormon.

  • Lady K January 9, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Finally sanity has prevailed. It may only last a short while but every day without gay marriage is a blessing.

    • Craig January 9, 2014 at 7:04 am

      @ Mike and Lady K … how exactly does gay marriage affect you?
      It doesn’t. That’s the short answer. If an EMT, LEO or a Soldier is saving your life, how concerned would you be in their sexual orientation and their marital status? You wouldn’t be. You would only want your small life saved so you can go on to another day of your little bigoted campaign.
      Don’t start quoting your Bible babble because i’ll shoot that down. The fact of the matter is that gays and lesbians are here to stay. They also make up a part of the tax paying population. If they do not have the same equal rights and protections in this country, why are they expected to pay into a tax system designed to work against them?

    • Ron January 9, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Why is that? I find it a blessing when people have the same rights I do.

  • Clarity is fun January 9, 2014 at 3:29 am

    Did you actually write, “…it has also left same-sex marriages in the state in a state of “legal limbo”? There are many ways to craft that information into a sentence, and this is not a particularly effective choice. If you’re going to rehash other writers’ published articles without doing any actual news gathering yourself and call it reporting, at least write sentences that aren’t 6th grade silly. Please.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic January 9, 2014 at 6:31 am

      Clarity is fun, we can accept the jab, no problem with that. With due respect, though, in this case please note, though, we are quoting the attorney general – silly, depending on how you see it perhaps, but you are seeing that in multiple media sources because it is what Mr. Reyes said. 🙂
      ST. GEORGE NEWS | STGnews.com
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

    • skip2maloo January 9, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Clarity is also not always so clear, eh? You manage not only to make adult foolishness by not reading carefully but also by elevating 6th grade silliness far above your behavior! Now go after the real perp, the AG who gets to get the stake out of a state in which the status of the state remains legally limbo’d by lesbian lovers who legally light up the loathsome status quo and leave them in a state of lobotomous limbo. BTW, why beat up on 6th graders? Talk about limbo state!

  • Clarity is fun January 9, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks for your good humor, and I’ll admit to being particularly snarky in my criticism. However, the punctuation and use of introductory clause implies that the writer is paraphrasing — not quoting — the Attorney General’s words because they are not set within quotation marks. The punctuation implies that only the words “legal limbo” are directly attributable to Mr. Reyes. If he said, “in the state in the state of legal limbo,” all those words should appear within quotation marks. While I’m thrilled that the phase was spoken and not written, the paragraph may be even more concerning because now we’re dealing with attribution problems. 😉

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