US: Utah same-sex married couples not recognised by state following Supreme Court stay

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Gay couples who married in the US state of Utah in the short period between two court rulings during which same-sex marriage was available, will not be considered married until at least an appeal against the ruling is considered.

The US Supreme Court on Monday put a stay on equal marriage in the US state of Utah, forbidding same-sex couples from being issued with marriage licences in the state during an appeal against a ruling to allow them.

Attorney General Sean Reyes then sent an opinion to the state Governor’s office stating that marriages should only be recognised between one man and one woman, as it was before the law was ruled unconstitutional by District Judge Robert Shelby.

Governor Gary Herbert’s office has now sent a memo clarifying the situation for the almost 1,300 same-sex couples who married between 20 December and 6 January.

It states that, until at least the appeal against the ruling which deemed the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, same-sex couples cannot be considered married, and cannot marry in the state of Utah.

“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,” Derek Miller wrote in the memo released by Herbert’s office today.

“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,” Miller’s memo continued.

Three weeks ago, same-sex couples in Utah began queuing to marry after Judge Shelby ruled that the state’s equal marriage ban was unconstitutional.

The US state of Utah last week officially filed to ask the US Supreme Court to put on hold the issue of marriage licences to same-sex couples.

Supporters of equal marriage in the US state of Utah have asked the Supreme Court to reject a request to put a stay on equal marriage in the state.

A week prior, US District Judge Robert Shelby refused to block his own ruling making equal marriage legal in the state.

A man at the weekend revealed that he had been on hunger strike for twelve days, in order to protest against the fact that same-sex couples can now marry in the state of Utah.

In response a Facebook group was set up to send hundreds of pictures of food to the man.