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

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.
    Derek B. Miller
    Chief of Staff
    Governor’s Office
    State of Utah


  1. Wavin' Dave says

    I have 2 dear friends trapped in this morass. They were in all the TV coverage of Utah’s Great Awakening. I worried that it was a ruse and now I was right: the LDS runs that show and will smile and shuffle and secretly stab LGBT folks in the back every time. Trying to follow the logic of “marrying/ un-marrying” is futile. I have trouble understanding why the hate is so pervasive, but Windsor will be a tip of a still-looming iceberg of tolerance. My heart breaks for my friends, whose joy was so authentic and so brief. Shame!

  2. Enchantra says

    We need to think of a way to punish Utah without boycotting it. Boycotts don’t work and they end up embarrassing those involved. Something with teeth would be nice. LIke labor unions refusing to carry to Utah, that would be nice.

  3. Burt says

    Yet another piece of evidence to be used in fighting this law. I think we need to flood the state with money and workers to give the ‘saints’ a taste of the medicine they imposed on us in California. Let them see how they like outsiders’ money and politics entering into their little ‘Zion’.

  4. joosy says

    Wow, the legal branch of Utah (and now the executive) has failed at every turn. They forgot to include a request for a stay in case the court ruled against them (which is why marriages were granted immediately). Now they are deliberately violating the 14th Amendment when one of their main arguments is that allowing states to enforce marriage inequality does not violate the 14th Amendment. All they are doing is ensuring a sweeter legal victory for us in the future.

  5. Jay says

    Well no sh*t. If it was up to Utah they would send every gay born to a concentration camp or something. Thankfully sometime after June we will see the US Supreme Court take on
    Same Sex Marriage and then it shall be the law of the land.

  6. JackFknTwist says

    Impeach him.

    The stay relates to future ceremonies of marriage not ones already performed.
    If this tool advocates breaking the law he should not hold office.
    Draw up the Impeachment Articles now.

    In the alternative apply for an immediate injunction to enforce the law as it is…..application to made only to a Federal judge.

  7. Jack M says

    They can do it if they also declare null and void all of the straight marriages that were performed during that time period, including Mormon marriages.

  8. JackFknTwist says

    This tool is not a lawyer and does not understand the law.
    His second paragraph is wrong; it is not a prohibition on ‘recognizing’ same sex marriages.
    And it is not up to him to interpret what the courts have said.

  9. THurts says

    Any marriages prior to the stay are legal according to the law at that time, now any marriages performed after the stay would be illegal. Of course, I am speaking in common sense terms which this Governor knows nothing about.

  10. says

    The state ordered the county clerks to issue marriage licenses. It cannot now claim that those marriages are illegal.

    I thought my state of Arizona was run by idiots. Utah politicians seem remarkably dumber.

  11. Robert says

    What did they expect from Justice Sotomayor, and now this guy? It’s obvious neither of them want to follow constitutional law over their own personal beliefs. By granting this fool’s wish, she knew this would, and allowed it to, happen. Doing her job, instead of passing the buck like so many others, she created a situation that places the burden upon the people, not the state where it belongs.

  12. says

    Guys, I know you’re angry at the SCOTUS stay but please stop with the Sotomayor bashing. Sotomayor voted for the repeal of DOMA. She also dissented and wanted to rule on the merits of Prop 8 along with Kennedy.
    She is one of the primary reasons we are able to be here today.

    Even if she personally wanted to deny the stay Utah requested a full SCOTUS vote on it.

  13. Gregory In Seattle says

    By any possible definition, the wedding performed in Utah are legal. I would be happy to kick some money towards the class action lawsuit.

  14. says

    I agree with those who say that this just makes the next case against Utah even better. Possibly it will help push the 10th Circuit decision.

    A state run by clowns and idiots as well as Mor(m)ons.

  15. JackFknTwist says

    I have faith that Sottomayor deliberately adopted her stance in order to process the appeal through the Tenth Circuit first then she and the others will get their hands on it in the Supreme Court.

    Meanwhile the effing Mormons are still looking for those plates of gold inscribed with their teachings which were read by joseph Smith before they ‘disappeared’

  16. anon says

    He’s just trying to make it difficult for everyone for his own political advantage. I’m sure the AG told him that the marriages were most likely legal even if the 10th goes against gay marriage. His only legal recourse as Gov. would be to deny benefits to all couples married since this started until the matter is resolved. He can’t pick and choose which marriages he likes and which he doesn’t like. This is pretty standard administrative law.

  17. tyler says

    We go over the will (last vote) of the people in Utah, to the courts, to negate their vote to deny ssm; and we wonder why they are so angry, negative and nasty in their enforcement to the stay? Look at how we are reacting to the stay now. There is no civility left.

  18. Sean says

    They have no choice and they will recognize these marriage as valid because they were legally valid at the time they were issued. Period. There is no argument. The government is co-owned by these couples and they will comply with the demands of their employers.

  19. says

    The ‘will of the people’ is not applicable for civil rights. They should never have been allowed to vote on taking away a minority group’s rights to begin with. Read the Shelby ruling. Or Black in Ohio. They both cover this.
    If civil rights were up to the will of the people many states would still have slavery, forced segregation, and voting restrictions on race, or even on sex.

    Civility is a two way street.

  20. Bill says

    @SERIOUSLY : also, since Utah was going to ask the full court of a stay was denied, all Sotomayer did was to shorten the legal process by a day or two. The last thing gay couples in Utah need is for legal maneuvering to leave them in limbo for years.

  21. jamal49 says

    It is not surprising this has happened. But, when those couples were married, same-sex marriage was legal. Those marriages cannot be annulled or negated just because some Republican reprobate decides they are. Vote out every last damned Republican in 2014 and 2016!

  22. Gay Guy says

    How about suing to blot out any mention of polygamy from tombstones in Utah?

    If something “becomes” illegal, it is not illegal “ex post facto!”

  23. says

    Herbert has ZERO legal standing to dissolve ANY marriages let alone the marriages of a selective group. Nor has he the power to put those marriages on ‘hold’. Only the courts can do that.

    Can you imagine the outcry if a Governor decided to selectively put all ‘non church’ or ‘out of state’ weddings on ‘hold’

    What does Senator Jim Debakis have to say about Herbert putting a hold on his marriage?

  24. Richard says

    I don’t know if my comments on page 2 will ever be seen by too many, but…

    I think this is a HUGE mistake on Utah’s part. The stay was only to put only hold new marriages. The marriages that took place already were paid for an accepted already as valid. Utah should not be so arrogant as to claim victory and nullify, even temporarily, those marriages. They should only be nullifying them if the original ruling is reversed. I think it is an illegal procedure by the state that will be facing another civil lawsuit if the ruling is upheld and the legally married couples faced some kind of disparity during this blackout period.

  25. Randy says

    This won’t be permitted to stand.

    The state must stand behind its documents, and these people are clearly legally married, including for state purposes in Utah.

    Unfortunately, couples will have to start in the state courts to be recognized. Nevertheless, better get started now.

  26. TKinSC says

    If the district judge’s order is reversed, then legally it was never valid to begin with, and any same-sex marriage licenses issued pursuant to it are as invalid as the ones that were issued by that guy in Pennsylvania.

    If the order is upheld, then the marriages are valid from the day they were performed.

    In the meantime, there is a legal limbo with no clear answer to the question whether the couples are currently married, but while the stay is in effect, they will be treated as unmarried, per Utah law.

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