WASHINGTON -- The federal government will recognize the same-sex marriages that were performed in Utah during a brief window, despite the state government's decision not to do the same, Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday.
A federal judge in Utah struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriages on Dec. 20, and thousands of couples rushed to get their marriage licenses. But the state of Utah is appealing the decision, and the Supreme Court earlier this week put the ruling on hold until the appeals court has ruled.
The Supreme Court's decision halted the state from performing any additional same-sex unions, but it didn't address the status of those same-sex marriages performed in the interim period. Holder's announcement Friday clarified that those couples will, for now, be afforded the federal benefits married couples receive.
"I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages," Holder said in a video released Friday afternoon.
"These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds," he continued. "In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled -– regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages. And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available."