Lambda Legal Cheers Obama Administration Plan to Recognize Utah Marriages

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January 10, 2014

The Obama administration today announced that it will recognize as lawful the marriages of 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah, even though the state government is refusing to do so. Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, said:

It is gratifying to read U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s unambiguous statement affirming the Administration’s intention to grant federal marriage benefits to all legally married Utahns. Such a clear statement was particularly welcome, given the unnecessary and discriminatory decision by Utah’s governor and attorney general that the state will continue to discriminate against these legally married couples and their children.

The Obama Administration is doing what the law requires by making it clear that these wholly legal marriages of loving same-sex couples in Utah will receive the federal recognition they deserve. This welcome leadership from the federal government provides a significant measure of security and dignity to these families.

The U.S. Supreme Court paused the process of issuing future marriage licenses to additional families while an appeal is pending, but they did not – and could not – make existing legal marriages disappear.

Late last month, a U.S. District Court Judge struck down as unconstitutional Utah’s discriminatory marriage ban. More than 1,000 same-sex Utah couples got married before the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the ruling earlier this week. After the stay was issued, Utah’s governor and attorney general announced that the state would not provide these couples with spousal benefits or protections pending the outcome of the case.

In his statement issued today and posted on the Justice Department’s website, Attorney General Holder said:

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.

Read the press release.