John M. Becker

ACLU Sues Utah for Not Recognizing its Own Marriages

Filed By John M. Becker | January 21, 2014 2:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: ACLU, Gary Herbert, gay marriage, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Utah

wedding_rings.jpgThe American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of Utah in state court today on behalf of four same-sex couples who were legally married after a federal judge struck down the state's marriage discrimination amendment, but whose legal marriages the state has maliciously and arbitrarily refused to recognize.

The lawsuit seeks to compel the state of Utah to recognize all valid and legal marriages in that state, including those of the 1,300 same-sex couples who married during the brief window when same-sex marriages were legal there.

From the ACLU press release:

"These couples were legally married under Utah law and their unions must be treated the same as any other Utah marriage," said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. "Even our attorney general said that the marriages were entitled to full recognition by the state at the time they were performed. Regardless of what ultimately happens in the federal challenge to Utah's marriage ban, the marriages that already occurred are valid and must be recognized now."

The lawsuit argues that once same-sex couples are legally married in Utah, they gain protections that cannot retroactively be taken away under the due process clauses of the Utah and United States Constitution.

The release notes that Utah's refusal to recognize LGBT Utahns' valid marriage licenses harms not only same-sex couples, but their children:

Some couples not only wanted to get married to demonstrate their commitment to each other, but also to ensure protection for their children. As a married couple, each parent can establish a legal connection to their children even if they're not the biological parent or previously recognized adoptive parent. Otherwise, Utah law allows single parents to adopt, but forbids an unmarried partner from being recognized as a parent to the other's biological or already-adopted children, which could have devastating legal implications.

Indeed, one of the plaintiff couples is a legally-married gay couple where only one spouse is the state-recognized parent of the child they're raising together. The second parent was in the process of legally adopting their child when Utah decided to stop recognizing their marriage, freezing the adoption process and leaving their family and their son's legal status in limbo.

The ACLU's suit is separate from the original lawsuit challenging Utah's marriage discrimination amendment.

A copy of the complaint is after the jump, via Kathleen Perrin of Equality Case Files.

Evans v. Utah by Equality Case Files

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