Judge orders Utah to recognize same-sex marriages from 17-day window

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal judge ordered Monday that Utah honor the same-sex marriages performed during the 17 days following the initial strike-down of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Dale A. Kimball told Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to “immediately recognize the marriages by the same-sex couples entered pursuant to Utah marriage licenses issued and solemized between Dec. 20, 2013 and Jan. 6, 2014, and afford these same-sex marriages all the protections, benefits and responsibilities given to all marriages under Utah law.”

The marriages were performed following District Court Judge Robert Shelby’s striking down Amendment 3, Utah’s same-marriage ban, as unconstitutional.

A stay on Judge Robert’s ruling was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 6, which put a halt to same-sex marriages pending the outcome of Utah’s appeal to the original ruling. The stay allowed Amendment 3 to be reinstated as state law, which doesn’t allow the state to recognize any form of marriage outside of one man and one woman.

Because of the state law, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said the state could not recognize the over 1,200 same-sex marriages already conducted across the state. This left those married same-sex couples in a state of “legal limbo,” Reyes said.

That limbo has caused benefits afforded heterosexual married couples to be denied to married same-sex couples, as the state has yet to recognize their unions. With the exception of joint-tax filings, other services, including adoptions, have been out of reach for same-sex couples married in the state. Pending the outcome of an appeal of Kimball’s ruling, these benefits will be made available.

While over 1,200 same-sex marriages have been report by media, Equality Utah estimates those numbers to be over 1,300 within the state.

“We are currently reviewing the decision issued today by U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball,” said Marty Carpenter, Gov. Hebert’s director of communications. “The ruling was issued with a 21-day stay to allow the state to determine how to proceed and we are evaluating the options and how this decision may relate to the status of other pending same-sex marriage cases.”

The Utah Attorney General’s Office also responded to the ruling with the following statement:

The Attorney General’s Office has not made an immediate determination about whether it will appeal Judge Kimball’s ruling. According to the Court, this decision directly relates to the same-sex marriages that took place within the 17-day window and not the ultimate legal questions in Kitchen vs. Herbert. We are currently assessing the legal impact of today’s decision and will respond within the 21-day allotted time period.

Equality Utah praised the ruling on its Facebook page, stating:

Congratulations to all of the loving, married couples in Utah. Today is truly a day of celebration! Today a federal judge ruled on the side of love by recognizing the 1,300 committed couples who were married in the 17 day window.

In contrast, the conservative-leaning Sutherland Institute said the following in a statement on its website:

Today’s decision is disappointing because it rewards judicial overreaching. There’s nothing in the United States Constitution that allows courts to mandate same-sex marriage on the states, but one judge was able to do just that by issuing a novel ruling and then forcing the state to put it into effect before the court of appeals could correct any legal errors in that decision. Our system is weaker when judicial gamesmanship is not kept in check. We trust the 10th Circuit will do that quickly.

Kimball’s ruling has a 21-day stay attached to it, allowing the state time to appeal the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments for and against Amendment 3 on April 10. A ruling on the appeal could be produced within two-to-six months after hearing the arguments and reviewing a horde of papers filed in association with the case. Whatever the outcome of the appeal, Reyes has said he will take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Ed. note: This story has been updated with statements from the Utah Governor’s Office and the Utah Attorney General’s Office.


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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


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  • 375ultra May 19, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    tell the judge to take a flying leap.

    • Are you from Dixie? May 20, 2014 at 8:33 am

      Tell all the bigoted Utah Dixieters to take a flying leap.

  • Applejack May 19, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    YAY!!!!!!!! 🙂

  • MrSmith May 20, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Welcome to America. Land of minority rule.

    • Applejack May 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Welcome to America. Land where people are finally starting to care more about other people then how much money they have. 🙂

  • Mom r dad May 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    When a judge performs same sex marriage do they need to know which one is he or she, she or she, he or he, it or he, he or it, she and it, it and she ? Apple when you played sports where you a pitcher or catcher, passer or receiver, center or tight end ? Applejack off with the disguise when you pass wind do you have tell the people your standing by cause they never here it ? Is it true that if a receive that’s a flying leap it turns out to be a flying leak? Lots of new strange questions the children are asking

    • JL May 21, 2014 at 9:45 am

      Strange questions from children, indeed. How old are you, “MOM R DAD”? I’ve heard more mature things from 8 year olds.

      • Applejack May 21, 2014 at 1:17 pm

        I asked myself the same question. Lol 🙂

  • Materialistism May 20, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    I wonder how many marriages are for materialistic values such as money, image and position? How many parents prep their daughters to marry someone with money or that hot looking guy who excelled in sports?

  • Burton May 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Bring on the “Love and Acceptance”. We all just need to be more sensitive and understand guys. Besides, all these so called educated liberal federal judges seem to know what is best for us. Who cares that the people put it to a vote and continuously vote it down. They are just stupid conservative bigots anyways.

    Hey progressives, how come you don’t mind manipulating the United States constitution to marry whoever or whatever you want. You say its un-constitutional that same-sex marriage is illegal, but in the very same breath you say the constitution is outdated and the second amendment should be abolished! Kind of a hypocrisy don’t you think?

    • hmmm... May 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Who got to vote on your marriage?

      • Burton May 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm

        A country that based its belief system on Christianity, that used the word of God to set the guidelines.(or at least that’s the way our forefathers meant it to be) Sorry. Try again!

  • Burton May 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    As defined in the bible, a marriage is between one man and one women. I did not write the guidelines. I just do my best to try to follow them. You see, just because a federal judge doesn’t have a problem with it, doesn’t mean God is alright with it.

    • hmmm... May 22, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      …and if one doesn’t believe in your religion or your church or your Bible, why do you impose your church laws upon him? Perhaps church and civil laws should be separate.

  • Burton May 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Well in my opinion, if someone chooses to not recognize God in their life or society then the last thing they should be worried about is some other guys post to a controversial article. Christianity IS a part of the U.S.A like it or not, just like being Muslim IS a part of living in the middle east. If all these American citizens want us to be like Europe so bad why don’t you all just move there? Instead of trying to change the way that we have been doing things in this country since it was founded. Our forefathers broke away from them and were willing to die for these values.

    • hmmm... May 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      You make excellent points, Burton. Consider Europe and the Christian countries there that have become refuges for Muslims and now feel the threat of shariah law. We would clamor for complete separation of church and state if the voting majority happened to be radical Muslims.

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