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Judge Says Utah Must Recognize 1,300 Same-Sex Couples' Marriages

Judge Says Utah Must Recognize 1,300 Same-Sex Couples' Marriages

Judge Says Utah Must Recognize 1,300 Same-Sex Couples' Marriages

A federal judge orders the state to recognize the unions of those same-sex couples who married in the brief period when such marriages were legal -- but the state will have a chance to appeal.

A federal judge has ordered Utah to recognize the same-sex marriages performed in the 17-day period when such marriages were legal, but the ruling doesn’t take effect for 21 days, giving the state time to appeal it.

U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball ruled today that the state must respect those 1,300-plus marriages that took place after a federal court in December struck down the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and before the U.S. Supreme Court halted the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples while the December ruling is appealed, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

“Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes shall immediately recognize the marriages by same-sex couples entered pursuant to Utah marriage licenses issued and solemnized between December 20, 2013, and January 6, 2014, and afford these same-sex marriages all the protections benefits and responsibilities given to all marriages under Utah law,” Kimball wrote.

The Utah attorney general’s office will have the opportunity to appeal Kimball’s ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in the three weeks before it goes into effect. The December 20 ruling striking down the ban on same-sex marriage is already on appeal to the 10th Circuit, which heard arguments in the case in April. The federal government had already announced it will recognize the Utah same-sex couples’ unions.

Evan Wolfson, president of the national marriage equality group Freedom to Marry, issued a statement praising the ruling.

“More than 1,300 committed couples paid their fees, were issued marriage licenses, stood before family and friends, and got married – and the court was right to hold that they should be treated as what they are: married,” he said. “Many others also want to take on that legal commitment and are being denied, and the litigation continues, as must our work in Utah and nationwide. The appeals courts and the Supreme Court should rule against marriage discrimination, just as the judge did today. America is ready for the freedom to marry.”

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