Same-sex marriages in Utah will be recognized Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday, despite an announcement this week from the state’s governor saying the state would not. More than 1,000 same-sex marriages in Utah will be recognized.
This decision means those Utah couples will have access to federal benefits that are available to married couples in other states, including the right to file joint tax returns. It also adds to the confusion in the state following a surprise ruling last month against the states’ same-sex marriage ban per Fox News.Hundreds of same-sex couples got married before another court put those weddings on hold. The Justice Department statement marked the first time the Obama administration has formally weighed in on the debate with action.
“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,” Holder said. “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.”
Holder added: “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 in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.”
On Wednesday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced the state will not recognize same-sex marriages in Utah performed since last month, leaving gay couples in limbo amid the raging court battle.
The directive from Herbert’s office came in lieu of a federal judge’s Dec. 20 ruling against the state’s same sex marriage ban.