Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Same-sex couples married in Utah sue for rights

Utah is increasing being dragged into the spotlight for the family law policies enacted by the state over the last couple of decades. Abuse of the seemingly badly written laws has led fathers to sue Utah over having their children adopted away and same-sex couples suing to have their rights recognized by the state. As long as the agents of change continue to fight for what they believe to be right, Utah will continue to be a battleground for those seeking a more level playing field.

Four couples who married during the brief period of time same-sex marriage was legal in Utah are now suing the state for recognition of their rights and marriages. During this time Utah was the 18th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and over 1,400 same-sex couples married. The couples are seeking court and state validation of their marriages, which would help them accomplish things such as adoption and asserting rights that Utah has reserved for heterosexual couples. Utah officials have said they will recognize benefits already conferred to the couples, but will not officially recognize their marriages or grant new benefits.

Utah has a voter approved constitutional amendment which defines marriage existing only between one man and one woman. Since the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision striking down DOMA, the federal government now recognizes same-sex unions and grants couples in these unions that same benefits given to opposite-sex unions. The federal government recognizes same-sex unions even in states that outright ban them. Utah has 20 days to respond to the suit after which the case will likely be set for a hearing. This case, as well as the appeal of the federal judge's decision to invalidate Utah's ban, could decide the fate of same-sex marriage in Utah.

Source: Reuters, "Same-sex couples sue Utah over refusal to recognize gay marriages," Jennifer Dobner, Jan. 22, 2014

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