Republican Governor Gary Herbert has just announced that the state of Utah will not recognize the legal marriages of 1360 same-sex couples until the courts force him to do so. Gov. Herbert, has been working angrily and tirelessly to convince the courts to stay a federal judge’s ruling last month — which found the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. He and his new Attorney general succeeded on Monday, when the Supreme Court placed a hold on the ruling, and denying any future same-sex weddings until the Circuit Court ruled on the actual case.
Governor Herbert just issued a memo directing all state agencies to not recognize these marriages that were performed legally under current existing law, between December 20 and January 5. No same-sex marriages performed in state or out of state will be recognized, Governor Herbert has directed.
Presumably, the legal basis for ignoring the state’s faith-based proscription against same-sex marriages no longer exists in Governor Herbert’s mind, since he clearly sees the SCOTUS stay as somehow invalidating any marriages performed during the time the federal court wouldn’t stay its own ruling:
While it is certainly true that the Constitution of the United States — with its requirement that gay couples be afforded the “equal protection of the laws” — trumps the Utah constitution, Utah has made it perfectly clear that they plan to fight offering equal rights to gay couples until the bitter end.
Buzzfeed provides the memo:
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
State of Utah
And there is this from plaintiff’s counsel:
Update at 1:30 p.m.: Peggy A. Tomsic, one of the lawyers at Magleby & Greenwood who are representing the plaintiff same-sex couples, said in a statement:
“This unprecedented and disappointing action harms not only my clients, but hundreds of other same-sex couples who also were legally married, and whose families have been needlessly destabilized and stripped of basic legal protection. By taking this unwarranted action, the State of Utah has discounted the lives of thousands of Utah citizens who live, work, and raise their families in Utah and pay Utah and federal taxes like all other Utah citizens. Regardless of how the State believes the Tenth Circuit will ultimately rule, these couples are legally married, and the State should treat them accordingly.”