Federal Judge Rules Utah Must Honor All Same-Sex Marriage Licenses “Issued and Solemnized”

LGBT advocates protest outside the Utah Capitol earlier in 2014.

LGBT advocates protest outside the Utah Capitol earlier in 2014.

(KCPW News) A Utah Federal District judge says the state of Utah must offer full recognition to the same-sex couples that managed to obtain Utah marriage licenses. However, Judge Dale Kimball has given the state 21 days to obtain an emergency stay.

In an injunction order issued on Monday, Judge Kimball provides an all-encompassing directive to the state of Utah on married same-sex couples. Here is the preliminary injunction order in verbatim:

Defendants State of Utah, Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes are prohibited from applying Utah’s marriage bans retroactively to the same-sex marriages that were entered pursuant to Utah marriage licenses issued and solemnized between December 20, 2013, and January 6, 2014. Accordingly, Defendants State of Utah, Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes shall immediately recognize the marriages by same-sex couples entered pursuant to Utah marriage licenses issued and solemnized between December 20, 2013, and January 6, 2014, and afford these same-sex marriages all the protections, benefits, and responsibilities given to all marriages under Utah law.

Judge Kimball, however, does not grant same-sex marriages “all protections, benefits, and responsibilities” with immediate effect. Instead, the state will have 21 days to obtain an emergency stay from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals as they work on the broader same sex marriage case, Kitchen v. Herbert. After those 21 days, and if the Circuit Court still hasn’t ruled on Kitchen v. Herbert, Utah will be required by a Federal court to treat over 1,300 same-sex marriages like any other marriages in the state.

John Mejia of Utah’s division of the ACLU represents the plaintiffs’ who sued the state and brought about this injunction order. He called Judge Kimball’s order “well-reasoned.”

“I feel like any further attempts by the state to litigate this are not going to be fruitful or productive use of their time or resources,” Mejia said. “These are marriages that are valid with vested rights, and any further appeal would be unnecessary and, I think, ill-advised.”

Both the Governor’s office and the Attorney General’s office released statements later on Monday in regards to Judge Kimball’s injunction. The Governor’s office says it is still reviewing the decision and weighing its options for how to proceed.

Attorney General Sean Reyes said in his statement that his office hasn’t decided whether or not it will appeal the ruling. Reyes added, “We are currently assessing the legal impact of today’s decision and will respond within the 21-day allotted time period.”