Four same-sex couples sued the state of Utah on Tuesday over Governor Gary Herbert's refusal to recognize gay marriages performed during a brief period while it was legal in the conservative, heavily Mormon state.
The four couples, who were married in Utah between December 20 and January 6 and are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the court to declare their marriages valid and order the state to recognize them.
"By retroactively stripping plaintiffs' marriages of legal recognition, the State of Utah has put these couples and their families in legal limbo and prevented legally married same-sex couples from accessing critical protections for themselves and their children," the lawsuit, filed in third district court in Salt Lake City, said.
A federal judge struck down Utah's voter-approved ban on gay marriages in December, ruling that it was unconstitutional. State officials later won a stay of that ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court pending an appeal to a Denver circuit court.
Herbert's office has said that Utah can't officially recognize the roughly 1,400 marriages that took place before the stay was issued, as the legal battle plays out.
President Barack Obama's administration has pledged to recognize same-sex marriages in Utah even though the state will not do so.