Same-sex couples in Utah file lawsuit seeking respect for Utah marriage licenses

On January 21, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of four same-sex couples in Utah who legally married in the state following a federal judge's ruling in Kitchen v. Herbert, which struck down anti-marriage laws in the state. More than 1,300 same-sex couples married in those weeks, and this lawsuit seeks recognition for these licenses - which have already been extended respect, as they rightfully should, by the United States government. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the December 20 ruling, Governor Herbert and state officials in Utah ordered state agencies to place the Utah marriages "on hold," meaning that these couples would not be respected as married as the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case later this year.

The suit acknowledges the challenging and confusing situation that the state of Utah has forced upon these married couples: The United States government is respecting their marriage licenses, but the state of Utah - the state that issued the license in the first place - is not. 

The plaintiffs include Matt and Tony, who are raising a son together; Sacia and JoNell, who have been together for 13 years; Donald and Fritz, together for more than 21 years; and Marina and Elenor, who would like to begin raising a family in their home state. 

The ACLU explained more about the challenges facing these couples, describing:

Matt and Tony adopted their son, Jesse, four years ago, but because Utah does not allow unmarried couples to jointly adopt, Matt is the only one recognized as a legal parent and Tony is treated as a legal stranger under Utah law. Once they got married, Matt and Tony began adoption proceedings so that Tony could also be recognized as a legal parent. But those adoption proceedings have now thrown up in the air after the Governor’s order to put recognition of their marriage "on hold."

You can read more about the new case, Evans v. Utah, in Freedom to Marry's Marriage Litigation resource.