Utah's same-sex marriages will not be recognized by the state until further notice. Governor Gary Herbert's office issued a statement, clarifying the controversial issue. Chief of staff Derek Miller said the United States Supreme Court's stay prohibits the performance of same-sex marriage and recognition of those performed within recent weeks.
On December 20, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that Utah's prohibition of same-sex marriage was a violation of equal protection and due process as outlined in the US Constitution. Following the ruling, several counties began performing same-sex marriages.
Within 17 days, more than 1,000 same-sex couples were married in Utah. However, the state eventually filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court. During the appeal process, the court placed a stay on the performance of same-sex marriages.
As reported by CNN, Governor Herbert's office further clarified the stay. Although Utah's same-sex marriages have not been ruled illegal, state agencies are not permitted to recognize the couples as married.
Miller's announcement is expected to impact hundreds of newly married couples throughout Utah. As the appeals process is expected to be lengthy, couples who thought they were married will face numerous roadblocks.
Those married before January 1 will not be allowed to file joint tax returns. The couples will also be prohibited from adding their spouses to their health insurance plans. Those wishing to adopt children will simply have to wait.
The case was filed with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and is expected to begin in March. However, hundreds of couples will be in "legal limbo" until the issue is resolved.
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin admits the decision is a setback, but The Salt Lake Tribune reports that he is confident about the eventual outcome:
"While it is disappointing that the dreams of many more will be put on hold, we know that in the end justice will be served and no couple will be excluded from this cherished institution."Utah's same-sex marriages have not been ruled illegal. However, the couples may have to wait a while for state recognition.