The Obama administration will grant federal benefits to the roughly 1,000 gay couples in Utah who got married during the brief window recently when it was legal.
“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,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video message which was shared with TPM. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”
On Dec. 20, a district court judge legalized same-sex marriage in the state. The state of Utah appealed the decision, and on Jan. 6, the Supreme Court halted the judge’s ruling while the courts weighed the issue on the merits.
Holder’s full remarks are below.
“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.
“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.
“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 in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”