Utah. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has declared that the state will not recognize same-sex married couples pending a court appeal.

Herbert’s chief of staff sent an email to Cabinet members Tuesday night directing them to comply legally with a hold the Supreme Court issued on Monday. 

“State recognition of same-sex marital status is ON HOLD until further notice. Please understand this position is not intended to comment on the legal status of those same-sex marriages — that is for the courts to decide,” the letter said.


The Supreme Court filed an order Monday that temporarily halted same-sex marriages, which had been performed since a federal judge overturned a ban on them in December. 

Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled on Dec. 20 that the ban violated the U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.

The high court intervened last week when Utah officials asked that the justices get involved. Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted a stay on Monday, giving them more time to appeal Shelby’s decision.

More than 900 same-sex couples got married in recent weeks due to the temporary change in the law.

The letter to the Cabinet said not only does the hold prohibit people from performing same-sex marriages, but it also means the state won’t recognize them. 

Legal changes that same-sex couples made since their marriage, however, will remain the same during the hold.

“If a same-sex married couple previously changed their names on new drivers licenses, those licenses should not be revoked,” the letter said. “If a same-sex couple seeks to change their names on drivers licenses now, the law does not allow the state agency to recognize the marriage therefore the new drivers licenses cannot be issued.”

The Supreme Court’s stay will remain in place until the court from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver makes a decision about the state’s appeal.

Some experts say the case could potentially be heard by the Supreme Court, depending on the outcome of the current appeal.