More than 1,000 same-sex couples reportedly got married after a federal judge legalized gay marriage in Utah but before the Supreme Court put the whole thing on hold, and now the federal government says it will recognize those marriages as valid.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Friday that same-sex marriages in Utah are considered legal under federal law and are eligible for all federal benefits until further court action.
In a videotaped announcement, Holder said that an administrative step by the Supreme Court “cast doubt” on same-sex marriages that have been performed in Utah and that the governor of Utah has announced the state will not recognize those marriages.
“These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds,” Holder said. “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 opposite-sex marriages. And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.
Holder said that the Justice Department has been working since last June to implement the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor holding that Americans in same-sex marriages are entitled to equal protection and equal treatment under the law.
“This ruling marked a historic step toward equality for all Americans,” Holder said.