The Federal District Court said “yes”; the Supreme Court said “no”; and the Obama administration triumphed all with a declared “yes.”
According to a New York Times article titled, “U.S to Recognize Utah Gay Marriages Despite State Stance,” written by Charlie Savage Jan. 10, the 1,300 same-sex married couples in Utah were lawfully recognized Friday by the Federal Government. Those couples were granted federal marriage benefits after rushing to possess marriage licenses when Federal Judge Robert Shelby ruled Dec. 20 that Utah’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman violated the U.S constitution.
U.S Attorney General Eric Holder stated in a video released Friday titled, “Utah Gay Marriages to be Honored by U.S.” that these couples will be recognized under the United States law, even though the Supreme Court issued a stay after Shelby’s ruling.
“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,” Holder said. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”
Kim Hafen, the Washington County clerk auditor, said the ruling of the acceptance of same-sex marriage licenses was something his office didn’t receive instruction on. He said he met with the county commissioners and the county attorney to review the ruling. He said the reason Shelby decided to pass the law of same-sex marriage was because it was covered under the Constitution.
He then emphasized that his office will follow the law under every circumstance.
“[There are] other laws in the book that we don’t agree with, but we still do what the law says,” Hafen said.
Hafen said once Shelby passed the law, he began to see havoc throughout the county and state.
“This is a ruling that caused havoc and turned people’s lives upside down,” Hafen said. “If he just would have issued a stay while it washed through the court system, then it all could have been resolved. That would have been the ideal situation.”
Matthew Jacobson, a senior communication major from St. George, created a petition that suggested using the $2 million spent on blocking marriage equality for another cause, such as improving air quality in Salt Lake City or adding benefits in education. This petition was signed by 12,814 people in 10 days.
Jacobson traveled to Salt Lake City and delivered the petition to the governor’s office Friday when the Obama administration ruled same-sex couples as legally recognized. He said there were about 1,800 people who showed up to the office to support the same cause.
“I’m asking for the state to not spend our tax money on this,” Jacobson said. “Whether you agree with marriage equality or not, the fact is that even the most conservative Republican in this state would agree that spending $2 million on something with an unsure outcome is kind of ridiculous, and it’s poor governing.”
Kris Johnson, Dixie State University’s Gay Straight Alliance president and a junior biology major from St. George, said the changes took him by surprise, but the club is thrilled to see the movement in society.
“Hopefully we can look to the future that we’ll be more equal and have the same rights as everyone else,” Johnson said. “We’re glad to see that some progress has been made.”
Jennifer Gibson, a GSA member and a junior undecided major from Las Vegas, said equal rights and opportunities are what the club, and many other people, are striving for.
“In a perfect world, nobody would have to hide anything,” Gibson said. “[People] would not only accept different types of people, but also embrace [them] and try to share their cultures and respect and celebrate different cultures and different people.”
Jacobson said every marriage should be equal whether it is a same-sex marriage or a marriage between a male and female.
“…I want us all to feel like we’re on the same level,” Jacobson said. “I don’t want anyone to have to walk down the street and be afraid to hold the hand of the person he or she loves. I don’t want anyone to have to die and not have that peace of mind that your property, your wealth or anything else is going to be denied (to) the person that you love. I want you to be able to visit your sick … loved ones in the hospital without being hassled. I want gay and lesbian couples who have children to be able to call both of them parents … And I want the state to just stop trying to destroy our happiness.”
Holder said the federal government will continue to work on the issue and inform citizens when more information is available.
“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,” Holder said. “And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”