Judge ends legal limbo for 1,000 same-sex couples in Utah

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Utah must recognize the same-sex marriages that were performed in the 17-day period that allowed the marriages of same-sex couples, ruled District Judge Dale A. Kimball on Monday.

The ruling requires the state of Utah to recognize and “afford these same-sex marriages all the protections, benefits and responsibilities given to all marriages under Utah law.”

UVU’s Human Resources department had already granted benefits to those who qualified that were married in the legal window.

“We began processing the benefit enrollment requests of those who were legally married during that December-to-January window and those benefits still remain in effect because this order has been stayed,” said Melinda Colton, Public Relations Director for UVU.

Judge Kimball’s ruling came with a 21-day stay, allowing the state time to respond or appeal. Depending on the state’s response, UVU won’t know whether or not their policy will be impacted.

“It really is a legal issue that continues to evolve. Ultimately, at the University, we follow the law, whatever that ends up being,” said Colton.

The ruling addresses more than 1,000 marriages that were performed between Dec. 20, 2013 when District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled Utah’s third amendment as unconstitutional and Jan. 6, 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay that temporarily halted the ruling.

The stay issued by the Supreme Court didn’t address the legality of those marriages performed in the17-day period. Utah put their recognition of the performed marriages on hold, but acknowledged that the marriages would be respected federally and in states with legalized same-sex marriage.

Agencies had been instructed to neither issue nor revoke licenses. The Utah State Tax Commission accepted joint returns if the couple had been married as of Dec. 31, 2013.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of four couples who had been married during the legal window. This lawsuit is separate from the one regarding Utah’s third amendment ban. The plaintiffs for the third amendment lawsuit presented their arguments to the 10th District Court of Appeals in April 2014 and are awaiting a ruling.

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