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Utah defends freeze on benefits for married, same-sex couples

Friday, February 28, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah officials say in a new court filing that they have no choice but to put a freeze on granting benefits to newly married gay couples until a federal appeals court rules on the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

UtahThe filing comes in response to a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union filed in January on behalf of four gay and lesbian couples who claim the state’s decision violates their vested rights and has created wrenching uncertainty.

More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples married in Utah after a federal judge overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban Dec. 20. Those weddings came to a halt Jan. 6 when the U.S. Supreme Court granted Utah an emergency stay, something two lower courts denied.

Gov. Gary Herbert told state agencies to hold off on any new benefits for the couples until the courts resolve the issue. Agencies were told not to revoke anything already issued, such as a driver’s license with a new name, but they are prohibited from approving any new marriages or related benefits. The state tax commission announced, however, that newly married gay and lesbian couples can jointly file tax returns for 2013.

State attorneys said that moving forward with adoption requests and other benefits would be the equivalent of “a decision before a decision before a decision on finality.”

“Whether same-sex marriage is constitutionally required is an incredibly important legal and social issue. But that decision will be made by another court in another case,” state attorneys wrote in this week’s filing.

The state has made clear it was not ordering agencies to void the marriages, saying instead that validity of the marriages will ultimately be decided by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is weighing the state’s appeal. A hearing in the matter is set for April 10.

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The ACLU argues that the marriages performed during the 17-day window when gay marriage was legal are valid no matter what the appeals court rules.

The lawsuit contends the couples have vested rights in their new unions and should be able to move forward with efforts to make partners legal guardians of children or add their spouses to their health insurance or pension plans.

But the state disagrees, saying in the argument that there is no harm done by waiting to find out what the appeals court decides. Attorneys point out that the couples in the lawsuit have been living in Utah for years without being able to marry, even though they could have moved to other states where it is legal.

Follow the case: Evans v. Utah.

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51 more reader comments:

  1. Lol, a waste in tax payer money!

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:16pm
  2. Contact the Justice Dept for help fighting Utah.

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:17pm
  3. More bullshit!

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:19pm
  4. I guess bigots never learn……

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:20pm
  5. Utah’s defense: “Well, we’re small minded assholes-c’mon!!!”

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:21pm
  6. Yeah, too bad the minority got their way on slavery, on school integration, on racial equality, on interracial marriage, on a woman’s right to vote . . . so many evils that have been forced on us. It’s the decay of society, I tell you!

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:25pm
  7. They cant be married and cant adopt. Utah has become rather pathetic.

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:25pm
  8. Their attorney general’s just looking for a taxpayer paid trip to DC…

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:25pm
  9. Oh Utah, give it up. Gay equal rights will be happening no matter what. Stop wasting time and money.

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:27pm
  10. Lets hope not

    Replied on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:42pm
  11. Damn righteous bigots.

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:29pm
  12. The sad fact is that it’s less about the people overall and seems to be more of the mindset of the people in power. (Source: been living in Utah since I was 8)

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:32pm
  13. The land of the free shows it’s bigoted side too easily.

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:33pm
  14. Common sense prevails

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:33pm
  15. Keeping up the hate!!

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:33pm
  16. Fuck Joseph Smith

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:35pm
  17. I bet you would love that lol

    Replied on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:38pm
  18. Tasia Corbett

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:36pm
  19. Hey, Utah…did ya know it’s 2014?

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:51pm
  20. See Arizona is not the only state showing it’s ass! Pull up you panties Utah!

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:55pm
  21. No matter what these people, no religion is the law or above the law in this country. Federal assistance should be withheld from states that continue to pull this shit.

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 8:56pm
  22. can they defend their polygamy still being done or their shunning of gay members?

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:02pm
  23. So it’s ok to marry a 12 year old girl but not an adult of the same sex ? Makes perfect since to me…lol

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:07pm
  24. That’s just fucked up

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:09pm
  25. I hope Utah enjoys the legal bills it will pay for this losing ‘fight’.

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:21pm
  26. Hopefully they realize that while these intolerant laws and decisions may be a good way of rallying radical conservatives,they are adding themselves to a list of states that many gay couples as individuals will never visit again.

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:26pm
  27. Why don’t they realize that they have already lost?

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:29pm
  28. Obstruction…..

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:31pm
  29. You have lost the fight Utah, get your head out of your ass and get over it…. Gay people live in Utah, they pay taxes, they have families and they have rights.

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:35pm
  30. You got it Brian….just more waisted money on their part for all,of the legal fees. Shame on you Utah

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:39pm
  31. mormons just dont quit. they run most of state. beware lgbt

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 9:44pm
  32. drama

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 10:37pm
  33. why the hell does it please you to stomp on others happiest?? If it doesnt directly involve you why does it matter??

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 11:01pm
  34. What a bunch of crap!

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 11:24pm
  35. Arseholes . Who gives a flying duck what Utah thinks. All hypocrites anyway. Lovely Christian folk my arse .

    Posted on Friday, February 28, 2014 at 11:30pm
  36. Give it up. Assholes!

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 1:12am
  37. The moron backing of these moves is both evil and identifiable.

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 3:25am
  38. Unthinkable immoral! These people betray their religions in profound ways.

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 3:30am
  39. They killed witches had multiple wives and now want to kill the Gays! God help them!

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 3:46am
  40. You gotta consider — they’re all Mormons who FINANCED Prop 8!!!!!

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 4:41am
  41. Those where the buck stops should be held accountable for gross abuses of power, and subject to punitive damages.

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 5:47am
  42. Get over it Utah. Marriage Equality is there to stay.

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 5:59am
  43. My response to a republican troll, it almost makes their head explode …………

    Wow! That really got to you didn’t it. Republicans are being divided and devoured by the tea baggers bye-bye Republicans you’re going to be a thing of the past not too long from now, This is great for us Democrats, what it means to you and the country is that there will be a democrat in the White House for at least 16 years, and by then the Republican Party will be a weak shell of what it once was. Hillary will be president two terms, Obama will become Secretary of State then after her Joe Biden will take the White House for two terms, the Mrs Oboma will take the White House for two terms, what was the name of that other party? Wast teapublicans? Rebagges?

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 6:30am
  44. Utah can kiss my ass. It’s really pathetic that these brain dead asswipes keep trying over and over and failing every time.

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 6:30am
  45. Tom, not all of us are Mormon and many Mormons I know are working hard for full civil rights for GLBT people. Not everyone in Utah is nuts or bigoted.

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 9:54am
  46. Oh no, the Mormons are not hateful right ?

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 11:11am
  47. what a surprise small minded

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 11:29am
  48. Utah get off your hate

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 1:21pm
  49. Utah karma will stricken you hard

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 1:22pm
  50. Last time I looked, the Bible said LOVE one another… I say to all the gay haters out there, you are not Christians you’re letting the devil rule your lives !

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 1:50pm
  51. Maybe the court should LIFT THE STAY….Utah is just trying to make a hateful point….they want to be in control so their hate can continue….the court should lift the stay and let everything go on until the ruling has been appealed and a final decision has been made. Utah doing what they’re doing just shows even more why States can’t be held to do what’ best. The best for kids is to have loving parents, being denied benefits has nothing to do with parents it has everything to do with over zealous government officials and politicians!

    Posted on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 4:00pm