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Federal Government to Recognize Utah Gay Marriages

Submitted by on January 11, 2014 – 4:25 pmNo Comment

US Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages performed in the state of Utah, even as the state has halted official recognition due to a pending Supreme Court case. The move offers a measure of relief to the thousands of couples whose unions are in legal limbo.

“…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,” wrote Holder in a statement, that was also released by video. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”

On Dec. 20, a federal judge in Salt Lake City ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. As a result, over 1,300 couples were married in the state over the next 17 days. But on Jan. 6, the Supreme Court stayed the decision, and halted marriages pending review.

Days later, the governor’s office announced it would not recognize the marriages until the case is resolved. But at the same time, it said that the marriages were legal when they were performed. And the Utah attorney general has recommended that the married couples be issued marriage certificates, so that they may have proper documentation in states that do recognize same-sex marriages.

The DOJ has not enforced the federal ban on gay marriage since 2011. And just last June, the Supreme Court struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and extended federal benefits to legal same-sex marriages.

[via Washington Post; photo by Steve Wilson/AP]

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