Utah Sued by Same-Sex Couples Over Status, ACLU Says

Utah was sued by same-sex couples who married after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on Dec. 20 and were denied marital benefits while Utah appeals the decision, the American Civil Liberties Union said in an e-mailed statement.

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said this month that marital benefits won’t be granted to same-sex couples married after the state’s ban was overturned if they didn’t seek them in the 2 1/2 weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court put the federal judge’s order on hold.

More than 1,000 couples have sought marriage licenses in Salt Lake County alone, according to Sherrie Swensen, the county’s clerk, since U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled Dec. 20 that the state’s voter-approved ban violates the U.S. Constitution.

“These couples were legally married under Utah law and their unions must be treated the same as any other Utah marriage,” John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah, said in an e-mailed statement. “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.”

Today’s lawsuit filed in state court in Utah couldn’t immediately be confirmed in electronic records.

Ryan Bruckman, a spokesman for Reyes, didn’t immediately respond to a an e-mail seeking comment on the complaint.

The case is Evans v. Utah, Third Judicial District, Salt Lake County, West Jordan Department. The federal court case is Kitchen v. Herbert, 13-cv-00217, U.S. District Court, District of Utah (Salt Lake City).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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