Utah will not recognize gay marriages already performed
January 8, 2014
Monday, Jan. 6, the Supreme Court granted the State of Utah a temporary stay, pending appeal, of District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby’s Dec. 20 ruling that struck down Utah’s ban on gay marriages as unconstitutional.
Between Dec. 20 and Jan 6., more than 1,300 same-sex couples were estimated to have been wed in Utah, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. In Summit County, 41 marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples over the same time frame.
Tuesday night, Gov. Gary Herbert’s office emailed instructions to his cabinet members stating that "state recognition of same-sex marital status is ON HOLD until further notice."
The email attempts to explain what is now a more confusing and tenuous situation for those same-sex couple that were married in Utah between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6.:
"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."
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who was appointed to office Dec. 23 to take over for the recently resigned John Swallow, is advising the Governor’s office on matters related to these marriage matters and issued a statement Wednesday echoing the Governor’s stance:
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"We are unable to reach a legal conclusion as to the ultimate validity of marriage between persons of the same sex who completed their marriage ceremony in Utah between Dec 20, 2013 and Jan. 6, 2014. That question remains unanswered and the answer will depend on the result of the appeal process.
The appeals process for Judge Shelby’s decision has now moved on to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to rule on the case in the next few months. From there, the only remaining venue for appeal is the U.S. Supreme Court.