The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday that it will recognize the approximately 1,300 marriages of same-sex couples who married in Utah in the past few weeks.
The legal battle over same-sex marriage has been progressing quickly in Utah after US District Judge Robert Shelby ruled on December 20 that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage violates same-sex couples’ federal constitutional rights under United States v. Windsor. Utah subsequently filed an emergency request to stay the judge’s ruling, which the Supreme Court temporarily granted last week. Following the temporary block, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said state recognition of the couples married during the time period when same-sex marriage was legal – December 20 to January 6 – would be on hold while the appeal to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals progresses.
“These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video announcing the DOJ decision to recognize the marriages. “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 are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.”
Several states have followed the federal government’s lead with their own announcements recognizing Utah same-sex marriages, including Washington and Maryland. Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.
Media Resources: The New York Times 1/10/14; US Dept of Justice 1/10/14; Feminist Newswire 6/26/13, 1/6/14