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Court Orders Recognition of Marriages, State Appeals

This article was first published in the Liberty Reporter: 2014 Summer Newsletter >>

Evans-Hearing-140312-1On May 19, the federal judge in Evans v. Utah ordered the state to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally married in Utah after a federal court struck down a state ban, but before the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted additional marriages from taking place. Over 1,000 same-sex couples married in Utah during that time period. The Evans case was brought by four married same sex couples represented by the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Project, the ACLU of Utah, and Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC. While the Tenth Circuit temporarily put the judge’s order on hold, we are hopeful that the hold will be brief.

“Our clients, like over 1,000 other same-sex couples, were legally married and those marriages cannot now be taken away from them,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. “We are confident that the appellate court will uphold the district court’s well reasoned and thorough order making that clear.”

In his ruling, Judge Dale A. Kimball wrote: “The State has placed Plaintiffs and their families in a state of legal limbo with respect to adoptions, child care and custody, medical decisions, employment and health benefits, future tax implications, inheritance, and many other property and fundamental rights associated with marriage. These legal uncertainties and lost rights cause harm each day that the marriage is not recognized.”

Unfortunately, the state filed a notice of appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on June 5, along with a motion to stay Judge Kimball’s order while the appeals court considers the case. The appellate court has put a temporary stay in place, but has not yet decided whether to keep the stay in place for a longer time.

“We are deeply disappointed by Governor Herbert and Attorney General Reyes’ decision to appeal the district court’s ruling and to continue their ill-advised and legally unprecedented campaign to strip recognition from these legally married couples and their families,” said John Mejia, “We had hoped that Governor Herbert and Attorney General Reyes would stop wasting taxpayer dollars trying to tear these families apart and let them move on with their lives like any other married couple.”

This lawsuit is separate from the original federal case Kitchen v. Herbert (See page5) challenging Utah’s marriage ban, which is on appeal and awaiting a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

For more information on this case, please visit: http://www.acluutah.org/legal-work/current-cas