Federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in Utah

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Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday the federal government will recognize more than 1,000 same-sex marriages in Utah, despite an earlier announcement this week from the state’s governor saying the state would not.

The decision means those Utah couples will have access to federal benefits that are available to married couples in other states, including the ability to file joint tax returns. It also adds to the confusion in the state following a surprise ruling last month against the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Hundreds of gay couples got married before another court put those weddings on hold. The Justice Department statement marked the first time the Obama administration formally weighed in on the debate with any action.

“Recently, an administrative step by the Court has cast doubt on same-sex marriages that have been performed in the state of Utah. And the governor has announced that the state will not recognize these marriages pending additional Court action,” Holder said. “In the meantime, 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.”

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