Utah Says It Won’t Recognize Validity of Gay Marriages Performed Before SCOTUS Stay

Utah Governor Gary Herbert announced on Wednesday that the state would not recognize same-sex marriages performed before the Supreme Court issued a stay on Judge Robert Shelby's ruling striking down the state's ban, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

HerbertIn a letter to state agencies, Derek Miller, chief of staff to Gov. Gary Herbert, said those marriages will be "on hold" while it appeals the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby.

Please understand this position is not intended to comment on the legal status of those same-sex marriages," the letter said. "That is for the courts to decide."

With a stay in place, the original laws governing marriage in Utah are again in effect.

"Wherever individuals are in the process of availing themselves of state services related to same-sex marital status, that process is on hold and will stay exactly in that position until a final court decision is issued," the letter said.

Utah's attorney general Sean Reyes says the state has been unable to determine the "ultimate validity" of the marriages and will let the Court decide. Meanwhile, state agencies are being advised by a review team on what action they should take.

Read the full text of the letter, AFTER THE JUMP...

Dear Cabinet,
     
    I’m sure you are all aware of the issuance of the stay regarding same-sex marriage in Utah from the United States Supreme Court yesterday. This stay effectively puts a hold on the decision of the district court, which found state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage in Utah to be unconstitutional.  
     
    After the district court decision was issued on Friday, December 20th, some same-sex couples availed themselves of the opportunity to marry and to the status granted by the state to married persons. This office sent an email to each of you soon after the district court decision, directing compliance.
     
    With the district court injunction now stayed, the original laws governing marriage in Utah return to effect pending final resolution by the courts. It is important to understand that those laws include not only a prohibition of performing same-sex marriages but also recognizing same-sex marriages.  
     
    Based on counsel from the Attorney General’s Office regarding the Supreme Court decision, state recognition of same-sex marital status is ON HOLD until further notice. 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. The intent of this communication is to direct state agency compliance with current laws that prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages.
    Wherever individuals are in the process of availing themselves of state services related to same-sex marital status, that process is on hold and will stay exactly in that position until a final court decision is issued. For example, if a same-sex married couple previously changed their names on new drivers licenses, those licenses should not be revoked. If a same-sex couple seeks to change their names on drivers licenses now, the law does not allow the state agency to recognize the marriage therefore the new drivers licenses cannot be issued.
     
    We appreciate your patience and diligence in this matter. We recognize that different state agencies have specific questions and circumstances that will need to be worked through. Please do so with the Assistant Attorney General assigned to your respective agency in coordination with the Governor’s General Counsel. We also recognize that these changes affect real people’s lives. Let us carefully and considerately ensure that we, and our employees throughout the state, continue to treat all people with respect and understanding as we assist them.
     
    Regards,
    Derek B. Miller
    Chief of Staff
    Governor’s Office
    State of Utah