Utah's governor and attorney general have directed state and county officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear cases related to marriage, effectively establishing legal marriage equality in the state.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert held a press conference with state attorney general Sean Reyes regarding the move. Herbert said he was disappointed that the court did not schedule time to hear the cases, but he said the lower court rulings were "groundbreaking" and "of significance to our culture and to the laws of the land," The Salt Lake City Tribune reports.
Reyes added that he agreed with Herbert that it was time to accept that marriage equality is legal across Utah.
More than half of Utahns oppose marriage equality, according to the report, as do two of the most prominent religious faiths in the state, the Mormon and Catholic churches.
In an official statement from The Church of Latter-day Saints issued Monday, leaders said, "as far as the civil law is concerned, the courts have spoken." The statement also encouraged Mormons "to be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or nonbelief, and differences in sexual orientation."
Catholic Bishop John C. Wester, who leads the state's 300,000 Catholics, told the Tribune that the court's move does not necessarily mean a permanent decision has been made, as far as marriage equality is concerned.
Whether the decision is permanent or not, same-sex couples across the state are lining up to get hitched after a year of uncertainty:
Utah's only openly gay Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis (L), Suzanne Marelius, (C) and Kelli Frame, (R) talk to the press after Frame and Marelius got a marriage license at the Salt Lake County Recorders Office on October 6, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Marelius and Frame are the first same sex couple in Utah to get a marriage license after the U.S. Supreme Court declined challenges to gay marriage making it now legal in Utah.
Suzanne Marelius, (L) and Kelli Frame, (R) show off their marriage license outside the Salt Lake County Recorders Office on October 6, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert, (L) and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, (R), talks to the press about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Utah's Gay Marriage ban on October 6, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Governor ordered all state government agencies to start complying with the new ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court declined challenges including Utah's to gay marriage making it legal now in Utah.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert talks to the press about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on Utah's Gay Marriage ban on October 6, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.