Governor Gary Herbert’s office is directing state agencies to no longer recognize same-sex marriages. Herbert’s Chief of Staff Derek Miller sent out the directive in an email to members of the cabinet. He says based on the stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court and counsel from the Attorney General’s office, that the state should put recognition of same-sex marriages on hold, until the courts can decide their legal status. That means gay couples married before the stay won’t be able to receive the same state benefits as other married couples.
“Once the stay was issued, everything got put on hold," Miller says. "So, if they didn’t file a joint tax return and now it’s after the stay, the state would be prohibited from recognizing that tax return.”
John Mejia is the legal director for the ACLU of Utah. He disagrees with the Attorney General’s interpretation of the stay. He sent a letter explaining his position to state offices on Wednesday with the hope that the Governor and the Attorney General might reconsider their decision.
“The courts that have looked at similar questions from other states have said, no you can’t retroactively invalidate marriages, those rights and privileges and protections were vested immediately when those folks got married and I think those same conclusions should be made here,” Mejia says.
The law firm of Magleby and Greenwood represent the Plaintiffs in the court case that set off the controversial ruling. They issued a statement saying they are disappointed by the Governor’s actions and believe they harm the hundreds of same-sex couples who were legally married before the stay was issued.