The Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages in Utah while the state appeals a judge’s ruling in a lower court, and Utah has said it won’t recognize the more than 900 unions that took place after a district judge invalidated the state’s ban on gay marriage.
In a video message today, though, Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government will recognize the marriages.
The pledge follows a letter sent to Holder on Thursday by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights group that maintained since the couples married legally they should have access to federal benefits.
“Last June, the Supreme Court issued a 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 American families. And since the day it was handed down, the Department of Justice has been working tirelessly to implement it in both letter and spirit—moving to extend—federal benefits to married same-sex couples as swiftly and smoothly as possible,” Holder said.
“Recently, an administrative step by the court has cast doubt on same-sex marriages that have been performed in the state of Utah. And the governor has announced that the state will not recognize these marriages pending additional court action,” he added.
“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 opposite-sex marriages. And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”