Utah won’t recognize 1000+ gay ‘marriages’ contracted after judge struck down marriage amendment
SALT LAKE CITY, January 8, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has halted gay “marriage” in Utah, the governor has moved to vigorously enforce state law, which is supported by the vast majority of state citizens.
In 2004, 66 percent of state voters approved Amendment 3 to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the state Constitution. On December 20, the Friday before Christmas, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby, an Obama appointee, struck down Utah's constitutional marriage protection amendment.
Shelby had indicated he would not rule until January 7. At the time of his ruling, just before Christmas break, the state did not have a bona fide attorney general.
Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, immediately began working with Acting Attorney General Brian L. Tarbet “to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.” He then named a new state attorney general, Sean Reyes, to assist his efforts.
Denver's Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals denied two requests for a stay, and some 1,000 marriage licenses were awarded to homosexual couples in the meantime.
But on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay, halting the implementation of Shelby's ruling until the case is fully adjudicated – probably before the High Court itself.
On Tuesday, Herbert's chief of staff, Derek Miller, sent a directive to all cabinet officials telling them that, thanks to the Supreme Court stay, the state reverts to its previous status quo: it does not recognize gay “marriages” in any way.
While around 1,000 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses, the Associated Press estimates that hundreds never actually got married. Now, no such ceremonies may take place.
But the state is also suspending its recognition of the gay “marriages” that did take place under Shelby's order. Governor Herbert warned in December that if Shelby's ruling is overturned, any licenses granted would be considered invalid, resulting in chaos.
“With the district court injunction now stayed, the original laws governing marriage in Utah return to effect pending final resolution by the courts,” Miller's e-mail read. “It is important to understand that those laws include not only a prohibition of performing same-sex marriages but also recognizing same-sex marriages.”
Thus, for instance, if a homosexual wanted to legally change his last name to that of his “husband,” the state will not comply, because doing so would violate the state constitutional amendment supported by two-thirds of Utah voters in 2004, as well as other ordinances.
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“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,” Miller continued.
Those who have questions are told to consult the relevant assistant attorney general, who will direct them on how to maintain state law appropriately.
The directive thanked officials for their “patience and diligence,” as well as their “compliance.”
Herbert's directive, sent via Miller, reads in full:
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.