Federal Government Will Recognize Utah’s Same-Sex Marriages Even Though Utah Won’t

CREDIT: Jim Dalrymple II/@jimmycdii

The line of couples waiting to marry in Salt Lake City the Monday morning after the marriage equality ruling.

In a video released Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the over 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah who married during the window when it was legal can have their marriages recognized by the federal government, even though Utah has placed that recognition “on hold”:

HOLDER: Recently, an administrative step by the court has cast doubt on same-sex marriages that have been performed in the state of Utah. The governor has announced that the state will not recognize these marriages pending additional court action.

In the meantime, I am confirming today that for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages. These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds. In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled, regardless of whether they are in same-sex or in opposite-sex marriages, and we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.

This suggests that the other states that recognize same-sex marriages would likely follow this precedent and also recognize the couples from Utah. Holder’s announcement confirms the suspicions expressed by Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson, the first same-sex couple to marry in Utah, that Utah is now in fact the only place that their Utah marriage license is not recognized.


The state of Maryland has announced that it too will recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah.

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Washington state will also recognize the Utah marriages.

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