- (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Urquhart)
The office of Utah Governor Gary Herbert stated that same-sex marriages that took place after the state's ban on gay marriage will not be recognized as legal for now. The change comes after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in the case, putting the state's same-sex marriages on hold.
The governor's chief of staff Derek Miller issued a directive to cabinet members on Tuesday detailing the state's official position.
"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 wrote.
"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," he continued.
The Supreme Court released a brief statement Monday saying it issued the stay in order to "minimize the enormous disruption to the state and its citizens of potentially having to 'unwind' thousands of same-sex marriages."
Same-sex couples in the state began marrying in late December after U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned the state's 2004 ban on same-sex marriage. Since Shelby's ruling on Dec. 20, over 900 same-sex couples have married in Utah.
The high court's order will remain in effect as the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reviews Utah's challenge against Shelby's previous ruling. Shelby said in his ruling that the 2004 ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional because it violated the U.S. Constitution's 14th amendment rights to equal protection and due process.
The request for a stay was initially handed down by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees appeals jurisdiction for Utah and surrounding states.
The Utah attorney general's office previously said it was appealing Shelby's ruling because the "federal district court's ruling that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right has never been established in any previous case in the 10th Circuit."