Utah Must Honor Same-Sex Marriages Performed in 17-Day Period

by Norris Law Group on May 26, 2014

Utah Must Honor Same-Sex Marriages Performed in 17-Day PeriodOn May 19, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that a federal judge has ruled that Utah must recognize same-sex marriages that took place during a 17-day window during which gay marriage was legal in Utah between December 2013 and January 2014. The judge further ruled that these couples must be granted the same rights and privileges provided by the state to heterosexual couples.

Approximately 1,300 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses in Utah in the 17-day period between December and January window immediately following the overturning of Utah’s Amendment 3, a ban on same-sex marriages approved by Utah voters. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of this ruling in January, which stopped any more weddings from taking place. Over the course of these 17 days, more than 1,000 same-sex couples married. On May 18, a federal judge ruled that these marriages are legal and binding under Utah law, and must be honored by the state. This ruling marks the first in which a federal judge has ordered any state to acknowledge same-sex marriages performed after a state ban on such unions was overturned.

In the May 18 ruling, the judge said that rights including (but not limited to) inheritance, legal protection and “the custody and care of children” must also be honored. The issue of child custody relates to a separate issue under debate in Utah—a challenge to decision by three state court judges mandating that Utah allow same-sex married couples to adopt.

The May 18 ruling will not go into effect for 21 days from that date. The state does have the right and enough time to appeal the ruling. As of this writing, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes have not announced whether they will file an appeal.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of divorce and family law. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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