Same-sex couples in limbo after Utah won't recognize marriage

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A decision Wednesday by Gov. Gary Herbert to not recognize same-sex marriages performed before the Supreme Court issued a stay is a blow to more than a thousand same-sex couples who received marriage licenses.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – A decision Wednesday by Gov. Gary Herbert to not recognize same-sex marriages performed before the Supreme Court issued a stay is a blow to more than a thousand same-sex couples who received marriage licenses.

The Governor's Office sent an email to cabinet members Wednesday stating that Utah will revert to original laws governing marriage in Utah. The email also states that "those laws include not only a prohibition of performing same-sex marriages but also recognizing same-sex marriages."

Jason Dautel and Micah Unice say they are devastated.

“I think the most disrespectful thing you can do is to tell someone their marriage doesn't mean anything,” said Dautel.

For Dautel and Unice, the governor's decision to not recognize their marriage means benefits are put on hold, such as being on the same health insurance.

The directive from the Governor's office also says that their position is "not intended to comment on the legal status of those same-sex marriages - that is for the courts to decide."

“I submitted an application to enroll him on my insurance plan as a spouse and now that the state isn't recognizing the marriage as valid we are subject to an imputed income tax which is pretty significant,” said Unice.

The couple will also not be able to file jointly for taxes and their plans for adopting children will have to wait too.

“Now that we were married we were hoping we wouldn't have to move to have a child, but we'll see,” said Dautel.

“By refusing to recognize these marriages, the governor has thrown more than 1,000 families into legal limbo for several months if not years,” said Clifford Rosky, law professor and board chair of Equality Utah.

Rosky said the state is entering unchartered waters.

“It's a shame that Utah is the first state to take back rights and responsibilities of marriage from so many families.”

For the newly married couple, the last few weeks have been historic and they say nothing will change that.

“It's been so validating after a life time of not having rights,” said Unice. “We're still husbands despite what Gov. Herbert says,” said Dautel.

The question now for the same-sex couples is whether there is anything legally that can be done to challenge the state during the stay. They can file a lawsuit and some may, but legal experts say it's unlikely that lawsuit would take any precedent over what is already headed towards the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

To read more about the Governors decision, click here.
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