Utah Puts Recognition of Gay Marriages On Hold

January 9, 2014

State recognition of Utah's same-sex newlyweds is on hold based on counsel from the Utah Attorney General's Office, Gov. Gary Herbert's chief of staff said Wednesday in a memo to state officials.

"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," Derek Miller wrote in the memo to members of the governor's cabinet.

Attorney General Sean Reyes issued an opinion to the governor's office as a result of the stay issued Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court of federal Judge Robert Shelby's ruling striking down Utah's voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Utah is appealing Shelby's ruling on Amendment 3 to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Peggy Tomsic, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, called the state's position on the status of same-sex couples "unprecedented and disappointing" and said the state "has discounted the lives of thousands of Utah citizens who live, work and raise their families in Utah and pay Utah and federal taxes, like all other Utah citizens."

Reyes said his office was not making a determination about the validity of the same-sex marriages performed in Utah between Shelby's Dec. 20 ruling and Monday's Supreme Court stay.

"But it's very clear we cannot recognize those marriages under the plain language of Amendment 3," the newly appointed attorney general said.

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