Metro Weekly

Obama administration will recognize Utah’s same-sex marriages

Obama Holder Biden WH.jpg

The federal government will recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday. 

In a video statement released by the Justice Department, Holder said that the approximately 1,300 same-sex marriages performed in Utah between Dec. 20, 2013 — when a district court struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional — and Jan. 6, 2014 — when the U.S. Supreme Court halted further same-sex marriages in Utah pending an appeal — will be granted federal benefits.

“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 said. “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 are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages.”

Holder’s announcement comes after Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) instructed members of his cabinet Monday to place state recognition of same-sex marriage “on hold” pending a final decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Holder’s full statement:

Last June, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision – in United States v. Windsor – holding that Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law. This ruling marked a historic step toward equality for all American families. And since the day it was handed down, the Department of Justice has been working tirelessly to implement it in both letter and spirit – moving to extend federal benefits to married same-sex couples as swiftly and smoothly as possible.

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.

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. 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 are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.

[Photo: Barack Obama (left), Eric Holder, Joe Biden. Credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo.]

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Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's former political editor and White House correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @JustinCSnow.

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