The Utah governor's office has directed state agencies not to take any further action to honor the roughly 1,000 same-sex marriage licenses granted in the past two weeks.
In a memo to state officials, the chief of staff to Governor Derek Miller says there's doubt that the marriages are legally valid, now that the US Supreme Court has put a hold on the effect of a judge's ruling in late December, which declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
It's an effort by the state to find a middle ground between declaring the recently performed marriages to be legally valid and, on the other hand, declaring them to be void.
"With the district court injunction now stayed, the original laws governing marriage in Utah return to effect pending final resolution by the courts. It is important to understand that those laws include not only a prohibition of performing same-sex marriages but also recognizing same-sex marriages," the memo says.
It adds that "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 intent of this communication is to direct state agency compliance with current laws that prohibit the state from recognizing same-sex marriages."
What that means, the memo says, is that state agencies should take no action that would give any legal recognition to the marriages of gay couples recently permitted.
"For example, if a same-sex married couple previously changed their names on new drivers licenses, those licenses should not be revoked. 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 memo says.