For 17 days, same sex marriages were legally performed in Utah. On December 20, 2013, a federal district court struck down Utah’s Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) which, similarly to Florida’s DOMA, recognizes marriage as only between one man and one woman. Over 1300 Utah gay and lesbian couples took advantage of their newly recognized right to marry when, on January 6, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in to pause marriage equality in Utah pending appeal.
Despite the legal seesaw regarding the status of same sex marriage in Utah, the Washington Post cites U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as stating that those couples who were married during that 17 day period would be recognized by the federal government and receive federal marriage benefits.
According to Holder, “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds. 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.”
The federal government has been working to implement the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, which struck down the portion of the federal DOMA that denied federal benefits to same sex couples. Now gay and lesbian couples married legally under their state’s law were entitled to employment, tax, immigration, and other benefits enjoyed by heterosexual spouses. The Windsor decision, however, did not address state DOMAs, such as those in Utah and Florida, which continued to prohibit same sex marriage.
If you have questions regarding your options to preserve your Florida family law rights, schedule a consultation with The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or fill out our contact form.