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Utah puts recognition of gay marriages already conducted ‘on hold’

'Original laws governing marriage' in effect pending final resolution

Utah Governor Gary Herbert has issued a statement saying the state won't recognize gay marriages performed after a federal judge struck down a voter-approved ban that prohibited them. Credit:

Gay marriages that took place in Utah after a ban prohibiting them was struck down will not be recognized by the state, a statement from the governor's office says.

The US Supreme Court put a stop to gay marriages in the state Jan 6 pending state officials' appeal of federal Judge Robert J Shelby's ruling that Utah's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

"With the district court injunction now stayed, the original laws governing marriage in Utah return to effect pending final resolution by the courts," the governor's chief of staff says in the Jan 8 statement. "It is important to understand that those laws include not only a prohibition of performing same-sex marriages but also recognizing same-sex marriages." 

"Based on counsel from the Attorney General's Office regarding the Supreme Court decision, state recognition of same-sex marital status is ON HOLD until further notice," the statement says. "Please understand this position is not intended to comment on the legal status of those same-sex marriages — that is for the courts to decide."

It continues, "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 statement concludes, "We also recognize that these changes affect real people’s lives. Let us carefully and considerately ensure that we, and our employees throughout the state, continue to treat all people with respect and understanding as we assist them."

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has indicated that it will consider the state's appeal of Shelby's ruling on an expedited basis. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the court has yet to set a date for oral arguments.