Gay-Marriage Fight Takes a Toll on Utahns

1/11/14
 
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from The Wall Street Journal,
1/10/14:

Couples and State’s Conservative Majority Endure Sharp Mood Swings Amid Dueling Rulings; U.S. to Recognize Weddings.

Supporters of same-sex marriage rally Friday at Utah's Capitol. Last month, a judge struck down a ban, but ensuing nuptials were halted this week. Kim Raff for The Wall Street Journal

The recent flurry of court rulings legalizing and then halting gay marriage in Utah has whipsawed residents of this predominantly Mormon city, a conservative enclave that saw its first-ever gay pride celebration only last summer.

For same-sex couples here who say they endure stares and whispers while walking hand in hand, news that they could suddenly marry was almost unbelievable, said Todd Markham, who wed his partner, Addison Rose, during the brief 18-day window when same-sex marriages were allowed.

Meanwhile, city leaders here say they have been receiving emails and calls from residents. “Many people feel that their family values are being attacked,” said Gary Winterton, a Provo city councilman.

The last three weeks have been a whirlwind for the entire state, beginning with a federal judge’s Dec. 20 ruling striking down Utah’s 10-year-old gay-marriage ban. Then, this past Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court put a halt to same-sex weddings while that ruling is appealed. On Wednesday, Utah’s governor announced that the state wouldn’t recognize the 1,300 same-sex marriages already performed. On Friday, the federal government announced it would honor those unions.

The Justice Department’s move gives same-sex couples married in Utah the same federal status as those wed where gay marriage is legal—currently 17 states and the District of Columbia. It means they qualify for certain federal benefits and would be able to jointly file tax returns.

But they won’t be able to enjoy state benefits normally afforded to married couples following Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s decree to put recognition on hold during the state’s appeal. Adding to the confusion, the state’s attorney general said he couldn’t come to a conclusion on the legal status of the unions. More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):