In a statement released on Friday, the United States Justice Department said that it upheld the recent legal marriages of 1,400 same-sex couples in Utah and that these newly-wedded couples would be recognized as taking part in lawful relationships. This means for the moment that these barely month-old marriages could equally receive federal benefits and rights such as tax breaks and hospital visitations, mirroring the spirit of heterosexual marriages.
Sharing in such civil rights may not last long. The Supreme Court has stayed Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages, despite a state Federal District Court judge having briefly enacted an overruling of Utah’s policy of not permitting same-sex marriages to take place within the courthouse walls. It was this past turn of events that inspired hundreds of people to apply for marriage licenses in Utah. Once the window of marital opportunity was opened last month by the Federal District Court judge in Utah, local couples rushed to legalize their relationships.
The same phenomenon occurred in Massachusetts. Within twelve months of the ban on same-sex marriages being lifted back in 2004, more than 6,000 couples tied the knot. However, much like in Massachusetts and the controversy of legalized same-sex marriage, the counterproductive rulings between the state, the Justice Department and the Supreme Court will be upheld for more inspection. This will doubtless prompt further discussions to better punctuate the United States’ official guidelines about marital celebrations.
The United States Justice Department has a checkered relationship when it comes to same-sex marriages. Their commitment to red tape is long and well documented. Equally recognized is the human will to chase after financial and emotional security. There are more than 30 lawsuits in action across the country in which restrictions against same-sex marriages are being put to the test. So how do the legal restrictions stand up in a court of law created to protect the right of each citizen equally? Which ruling honors and respects its citizens without defamation?
In 1993 Hawaii’s Supreme Court ruled that obstructing same-sex couples from wedlock was discriminatory and illegal. Still, if Utah’s newly-married gay and lesbian community did not apply for federal benefits such as spousal health coverage, changing family names or filing a joint income tax return before the status of their marriages entered the current state of legal limbo this past week, they will not be permitted to apply for them nor will they be eligible for them.
Constitutional bans on same-sex marriage began to slowly be entered into the law books of individual states from 1997 onwards as, what some could call, a precautionary measure just four years after the gay and lesbian community in Hawaii obtained the ruling in their favor. Currently 29 states ban same-sex marriage, giving rise in the future for more controversy about human rights and liberty in the United States while it holds up the issue of same-sex marriage, an issue that touches on the welfare of the gay and lesbian communities and their extended families, for more inspection.
By Persephone Abbott