January 10th, 2014
12:01 PM ET
3 months ago

Breaking: Obama administration will recognize same-sex marriages in Utah

(CNN) - The Justice Department announced Friday it will recognize - for federal purposes - same-sex marriages performed for a short period in Utah.

The state on Wednesday said it would not recognize the approximately 1,000 marriages or marriage licenses issued for gay and lesbian couples, at least until the issue is fully resolved in the courts.

"These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a videotaped message.

"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," he added.

The federal government's decision will likely create more legal chaos over the constitutionality of same-sex marriage that is playing out in Utah, and several other states.

The Supreme Court last year said gay and lesbian couples legally married in their states were entitled to the same federal benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex partners.

The office of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert had sent a letter to Cabinet officials Wednesday saying that, based on advice from the state's attorney general, "state recognition of same-sex marital status is on hold until further notice.

"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," the governor's chief of staff, Derek Miller, wrote. "The intent of this communication is to direct state agency compliance with current laws that prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages."

The current legal and political fight erupted December 20 when U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby concluded Utah's law banning same-sex marriage, approved in 2004, conflicted with the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. That prompted many counties to begin issuing marriage licenses, but the state then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The justices on Monday blocked enforcement of the district court ruling until the constitutional questions are fully resolved. A federal appeals court could hold oral arguments as soon as March. A ruling there could affect all states within the court's jurisdiction: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

But 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."


Filed under: Same-sex marriage • Utah
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. DB

    "Based on advice from the Attorney General"? Give me a break. The governor of Utah (a college dropout) hand picked this AG on the condition that he do everything he can to fight gay marriage. The governor isn't following what the AG says, it's the other way around!

    January 10, 2014 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  2. Silence DoGood

    Liberals say "You can marry anyone" – that is called Freedom.
    Radical Right says "You cannot marry certain people because of minority religious sects" – that is Theocracy.
    I choose to live in Freedom. Tell me about your religion but keep it out of my government.

    January 10, 2014 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. SixDegrees

    Not really seeing how the state can refuse to honor its own duly issued contracts.

    Pointless political pandering, that will be overturned in the very first courtroom it enters.

    January 10, 2014 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. ThisWillBeFun

    @Marcus Alvarez: Where is the proof that is it not a choice? Right now "the born that way" it is just hypothesis that it is heavily promoted by the people in favor. I am sure once this issue is is no longer being debated, people will suddenly start being born some other way.

    January 10, 2014 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  5. John Paul

    And Obama claimes to be a Christian? He's serving fallen man rather than Christ who says that "from the beginning God made them MALE and FEMALE..." so that "a man would leave his mother and cleave to his WIFE"... NOT sodomize his man! Obama is no more a Christian than the devil of Hell.

    January 10, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. Farmers Unite!

    Somewhere, an old white farmer is gazing over his fields thinking..." if I could just get people to vote for it..."

    January 10, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. Realist

    Utah already said it will recognize unions from other states.

    This issue is about what the majority of voters voted for in 2004. We voted to not have it in our state, in no way, shape or form should anyone feel like the majority of voters shouldn't have a say on what goes on in Utah.

    If you want to get married, go to another state that performs it and come back. All the law says is that here in Utah we prefer not to perform those unions, that's it! So settle down people.

    January 10, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. MSW

    Funny how each attempt to continue denying equal rights to gays is thwarted. Too bad it takes so long.

    January 10, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. keith

    Down with the Gays.... God hates them....

    January 10, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Don't worry, Utah will recognize these (again) soon. The state cannot take away someones' state issued wedding certificate, and marriage certificate- some actually performed by religious personnel. All you folks who advocate religious rights ought to see the handwriting on this one.

    January 10, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. rs

    John Paul

    And Obama claimes to be a Christian? He's serving fallen man rather than Christ who says that "from the beginning God made them MALE and FEMALE..." so that "a man would leave his mother and cleave to his WIFE"... NOT sodomize his man! Obama is no more a Christian than the devil of Hell.
    ______________________
    Nice that you self appointed yourselve that ability of judgement. Hold up a mirror.

    January 10, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. magicpanties

    Ooh, those Mormons gonna be mad.
    Search for Mormon and South Park.
    Guffaw.

    January 10, 2014 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  13. magicpanties

    So does South Park get blocked, or only if together with, you know, that sect in Utah?

    January 10, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. rs

    @Guest
    I am all for equal rights, but what gets me is that the federal gov needs to stay out of states issues. they are not here to tell us what to do in state issues. stay out of our lives and go back to DC and deal with real problems like forgien threats
    ____________________
    When a state like Utah messes up so badly that things have to be sorted out by SCOTUS, the federal government is already involved. Utah is going to get sued four ways from Sunday for their actions. The federal court system is what will save them from their narrow little theocratic minds.

    January 10, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. LOL

    The more I see what Obama does, the more I convinced that he is here on earth to deceive many and tempt many so many can go to HELL. And HELL is real – google it where many people describe the HELL. I don't want to go there – do you?

    January 10, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  16. Silence DoGood

    @John Paul " Obama is no more a Christian than the devil of Hell."
    This may come as a shock to you but the US is a country with many religions, Buddhist, Muslim, Christians that don't believe in gay marriage, Christians who DO believe in gay marriage, atheists, etc.. That is called Freedom of Religion.

    “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.”
    ~John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785

    January 10, 2014 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "in no way, shape or form should anyone feel like the majority of voters shouldn't have a say on what goes on in Utah."

    Apparently the founding fathers felt that way about certain things. Can you say Supremacy Clause?

    January 10, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. rs

    LOL

    The more I see what Obama does, the more I convinced that he is here on earth to deceive many and tempt many so many can go to HELL. And HELL is real – google it where many people describe the HELL. I don't want to go there – do you?
    ____________________
    If heaven is where close-minded, hate spewing folks like you go, I'll take the down below, thanks.

    January 10, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. Logictox

    Why does government even waste time on this issue. Maybe it's the entire concept of marriage that is outdated?

    January 10, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  20. eli

    These states are just dragging their feet on this issue. They know when it goes thru all the courts that it will be ruled legal. It is all about forcing people to spend massive amount of money in the courts.

    January 10, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. ErickMN

    Yet ANOTHER hard slap across the face of conservative christians. Delicious! Thank you Mr. Holder.

    January 10, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. T Howard

    Learned, abhorrent, unnatural, nasty.

    January 10, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  23. ChicagoJim

    Oh no!! The wrath of the Angel Moroni will descend upon us raining fire and brimstone!!

    January 10, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. Silence DoGood

    @LOL
    The more I see what Obama does, the more I convinced that he is here on earth to deceive many and tempt many so many can go to HELL. And HELL is real – google it where many people describe the HELL. I don't want to go there – do you?
    -------
    This is the best argument AGAINST the Christian Theocracy movement. Can you imagine a person like this with their finger on the nuclear button?

    January 10, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  25. Gt

    No surprise Obama just obey the laws they like anyway .Holder is the most corrupt person ever

    January 10, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
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