In a press conference following a stay ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court of Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling that Utah’s marriage laws restricting same sex couple from marrying are unconstitutional, newly-sworn Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said the legal status of the more than 900 same-sex marriages performed in the state are currently in “legal limbo.” He said that his office is currently considering the legal implications of these marriages.
“This is precisely the type of uncertainty we were hoping to avoid,” Reyes said.
Reyes said he was still entertaining bids for outside counsel as the case goes through the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but that the state would meet a Jan. 27 deadline ordered by the court for the state’s brief.
Gov. Gary Herbert issued a statement on the stay, saying, “Utahns deserve to have this issue resolved through a fair and complete judicial process. I firmly believe that this is a states-rights issue and I will work to defend the position of the people of Utah and our State Constitution.”
In question are the many laws on Utah’s books that restrict marriage between a man and a woman. After the U.S. Supreme Court declared parts of DOMA unconstitutional, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that same-sex couples could now file jointly. The Utah Tax Commission, however, ruled that Utah’s legally-married same-sex couples must file separately and use figures from a faux federal form completed as if the couple were legal strangers.
Another question currently unanswered is whether couples who received a legal license to marry, but have not yet had a ceremony or had a ceremony and have not turned the paperwork into their county clerks, will be considered married, as the approximately 1000 couples married since Shelby’s ruling. County clerks and district attorneys are waiting on guidance from the AG’s office.