Federal Judge: State Placed Same-Sex Couples In “Legal Limbo”
A federal judge has ordered that the state of Utah must recognize same-sex marriages performed during the 17-day window following the Dec. 20 ruling that struck down a same-sex marriage ban in the state. 1,300 couples were issued licenses in the time between the ruling and the Supreme Court’s temporary halt of the marriages.
In his ruling Monday, federal Judge Dale Kimball wrote that the state has placed the couples in “legal limbo with respect to adoptions, child care and custody, medical decisions,” and other rights associated with marriage.
John Mejia with the ACLU, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, explains the order.
“That ordered Utah, and the Utah Attorney General and the Utah Governor to recognize those marriages and to give them all the same rights and benefits and privileges as any other Utah marriage,” said Mejia.
The order will not go into effect for another 21 days, giving the state time to appeal the decision.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the state appeals and seeks a stay; I would be disappointed though,” said Majia. “I think that the law is clear here and these are marriages with vested rights and these 1,300 couples don’t need to face this uncertainty anymore and the state certainly has better ways to use its resources than to continue to fight this losing battle.”
Kimball’s order comes as the state awaits a decision by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on the original case challenging the ban.