Eric Holder: The Federal Government Will Recognize Utah’s Same-Sex Marriages

Attorney General Eric Holder essentially just told Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to suck it.

The Obama administration on Friday said that it would recognize as lawful the marriages of 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah, even though the state government is refusing to do so. Wading into the fast-moving legal battle over same-sex marriage rights in one of America’s most socially conservative states, the administration posted a video on the Justice Department’s website making the announcement. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that the federal government will grant federal marriage benefits to the same-sex couples who had rushed to obtain marriage licenses after a federal judge last month unexpectedly struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. “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,” Mr. Holder said in the video. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”

Holder: “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.”

View Eric Holder’s video message.

UPDATE: The Human Rights Campaign is cheering.

“These 1,360 Utah couples are married, plain and simple, and they should be afforded every right and responsibility of marriage,” said HRC President Chad Griffin following today’s news. “Attorney General Eric Holder has once again shown the kind of leadership that earns you a spot in the history books. This is only the beginning of this fight, and this work continues until marriage equality returns to Utah for good, and full equality reaches every American in all 50 states.”

UPDATE II: Freedom To Marry head Evan Wolfson applauds.

“The Attorney General’s determination that the federal government must respect married same-sex couples in Utah as what they are — married — is lawful, predictable, and correct. Even though the 1000+ couples married in Utah are encountering unfair treatment and disrespect by their home state and the other remaining states that discriminate, these couples are as married as any couple on the planet. As cases move forward in Utah and numerous states around the country, Freedom to Marry will continue working until all couples share in the freedom to marry and all marriages are respected throughout the United States. We applaud the Attorney General and the Administration for their fidelity to the law, the freedom to marry, and the Constitution’s command of equality.”