Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert announced today that the state will not recognize the 1,000+ 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 marriages, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
The Supreme Court granted the stay on January 6 to halt marriage equality in Utah. In a letter to state agencies, Derek Miller, chief of staff to Gov. Gary Herbert, said those marriages will be "on hold" while it appeals the December 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby that had legalized the unions.
With a stay in place, the original laws governing marriage in Utah are again in effect. In his letter, Miller told state agency directors that the state’s existing law prohibits not only performing same-sex marriages, but recognizing them. "Please understand this position is not intended to comment on the legal status of those same-sex marriages," the letter said. "That is for the courts to decide."
"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," the letter said.
However, if couples had already received, for example, new driver licenses reflecting new names, those licenses will not be revoked, the letter said. But couples may not now seek new licenses. ... Likewise, if someone had completed a process — whether that was filing for health insurance coverage or preparing joint taxes — they are now frozen at that point, he said.
Last week, the Utah Attorney General filed a request with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Justice Sonia Sotomayor for a stay pending the appeal of Shelby's decision. This after the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' refused to stay Shelby's decision ... and implied that the state would likely lose its appeal.
Utah was the 18th state to mandate equal marriage during a brief two week window. 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.