The Obama administration announced Friday that it will recognize the marriages of gay couples in Utah who rushed out to get licenses between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6 -- the brief window during with same-sex unions were legal in the state.
Attorney General Eric Holder said that the federal government will acknowledge the more than 1,000 couples who married before the U.S. Supreme Court halted same-sex nuptials on Monday.
PROVO, UT - DECEMBER 20: Utah County Clerk and Auditor Bryan Thompson (2nd R) hands out rejection letters for a marriage license to Raylynn Marvel (L) Patsy Carter, (2nd L) Loreen Major (3rd L) and Arlene Arnold (3rd R) in the offices of the Utah County Clerk and Auditor office on July 20, 2013 in Provo, Utah. (Credit: George Frey/Getty Images)
As TheBlaze previously reported, the high court put a stop to gay marriage in Utah until the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals provides a full ruling on the matter in the coming weeks.
The attorney general said families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their benefits while the courts decide the issue of same-sex marriage in Utah.
Holder's action will enable the government to extend eligibility for federal benefits to these couples.
"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," he said in a video announcing the decision.
Watch that video below:
On Thursday, the nation's largest gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, had asked the federal government to act. In contrast to the federal decision, Utah has said that it will not recognize the marriages.
The Supreme Court's move earlier this week followed an emergency appeal by the state after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled in favor of gay nuptials on Dec. 20. Shelby found that a law passed in 2004 by voters in the state violates the rights of same-sex couples.
The judge said that Amendment 3, which enacted a constitutional ban on gay marriage, “conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law,” CNN reported.
This amendment was supported by 66 percent of Utahans.
Republican Gov. Gary R. Herbert immediately made his discontent known over Shelby’s ruling and pledged to defend traditional marriage.
In the mean time, the Obama administration plans to validate those gay weddings that did occur in the midst of the ongoing judicial battle.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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