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US federal government will recognize Utah’s gay marriages

Married couples 'should not be asked to endure uncertainty" as litigation moves forward: AG

US Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government will treat as married gay couples who tied the knot in Utah after a federal judge struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban Dec 20. Credit: justice.gov

The Obama administration has weighed in on Utah's gay marriage fight, saying that the federal government will recognize as lawful the same-sex marriages of couples who wed after a judge struck down the state's ban Dec 20. 

After the US Supreme Court granted a stay of federal judge Robert J Shelby's ruling, putting a stop to gay marriages in the state pending appeal, Utah's Governor Gary Herbert issued a statement saying that same-sex marriages that took place after Dec 2o will not be recognized by the state. More than 1,300 couples married between Dec 20 and Jan 6 when the stay was granted.

In his statement on the website of the US Department of Justice, attorney-general Eric Holder, referring to the US Supreme Court's decision in the Windsor case, says that ruling held that those in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and treatment under the law. Holder says his department has been "working tirelessly" to ensure that the ruling is implemented "in letter and in spirit." 
 
Holder continues, "I am confirming that for the 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."
 
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has indicated that it will consider the state's appeal of Shelby's ruling on an expedited basis.