Excellent. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Obama Administration will recognize the 1300 plus same-sex marriages that were performed in Utah ... despite that state's decision not to recognize those marriages pending a decision in the federal court system.
Watch the Attorney General's announcement AFTER THE JUMP ...
Attorney General Holder announced this guidance in his video message
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 are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.
Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert announced earlier this week that the state would not recognize the 1300+ same-sex marriages performed in the state before the United States Supreme Court stayed a federal court judge’s decision overturning a ban on same-sex marriage. Herbert says those marriages are "on hold" as the state appeals the December 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby that had legalized the unions.
Seventeen states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage. Six Native American tribal jurisdictions also allow same-sex marriage.
The federal government has recognized same-sex marriages since the landmark Windsor case that struck down Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act—which prohibited federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples and denied more than 1,000 benefits, such as Social Security, pension benefits and preferential tax treatment.