A federal judge ordered Utah on Monday to recognize the 1,000-plus same-sex marriages that were performed in the state during a two-and-a-half week window before the U.S. Supreme Court put a temporary halt to the practice so that it could be appealed. The marriages took place from Dec. 20, 2013 through Jan. 4, 2014 after a federal court overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. On Monday, the District Court Judge noted, the Salt Lake Tribune reports, “these marriages cannot be made illegal retroactively, despite a U.S. Supreme Court stay that halted such weddings.”
Here’s more from the Associated Press:
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in January on behalf of four couples who said the state's decision to freeze benefits for same-sex couples violated their rights. The couples cited concerns such as having a partner legally recognized as a child's second parent… Utah officials argued that they had no choice but to hold off on benefits until an appeals court rules on the state's same-sex marriage ban.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball disagreed in his ruling Monday, saying Utah's decision to freeze all benefits put the couples in an unacceptable legal limbo regarding adoptions, child care and custody, medical decisions and inheritance, among other things.
“The stay that was imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court — halting the marriages and reverting the state to its 'status quo' of banning gay and lesbian unions — has no bearing on the couples who were issued marriage licenses by Utah county clerks, the judge wrote,” according to the Tribune. The judge, however, delayed the implementation of the order to recognize the marriages for 21 days to allow for the Utah attorney general’s office to appeal the decision. The appeals court is already in the process of deciding whether the initial federal court decision to overturn Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage will stand.