Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he believes regulating marriage is a state’s rights issue, but he understands many people are disappointed by his order to keep the state from recognizing same sex marriages performed legally after a key federal court decision.
Herbert says he was disappointed by federal Judge Robert Shelby’s decision invalidating Utah’s Amendment Three, which bars recognition of same-sex relationships. But earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Shelby’s ruling putting gay marriages on hold in Utah.
Herbert told RadioWest host Doug Fabrizio that he’s just following the law by ordering state agencies not to acknowledge the marriages performed during the days following Shelby’s decision.
“I make no moral judgments as governor on same-sex marriage," Herbert said. "I’m not the religious leader of the state of Utah. I’m the governor. My oath is to uphold the constitution of the United States and the constitution of Utah. Amendment Three is part of that constitution. The people have spoken.”
Herbert said that there is one area where the state will acknowledge legal same-sex marriages. The Utah Tax Commission will allow gay couples married before the end of the year to file joint state tax returns.
“That’s our state tax commission, again, following the law. That’s what we’ve asked all of our cabinet members to do, all of our departments is you follow the law," he said.
Herbert expects the issue will ultimately be decided by the U-S Supreme Court, but he believes it would be better if the states could resolve it through legislative action. The state’s appeal to Judge Shelby’s ruling will be argued later this year in the Tenth Circuit Court.