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The first gay couple to be married in Utah, Michael Ferguson (2nd R) and his husband Seth Anderson (R), kiss as Blake Ferguson (L) and his girlfriend Danielle Morgan watch after the pair married at the Salt Lake County Clerks office in Salt Lake City, Uta
The state of marriage in Utah is ... complicated. After a federal district judge overturned the state's gay marriage ban, the Supreme Court put a stay on new marriages. Gov. Gary Herbert then put around 1,300 existing same-sex marriages "on hold," but the federal government said it would recognize them. Now, the ACLU is suing to force Utah to recognize those marriages. For one of the four couples named in the lawsuit, recognition is an immediate, concrete issue. Stacia Ireland has heart problems; after she and JoNell Evans married:
“We were just on cloud nine for a week. And then Stacia had severe chest pain on New Year’s Day, and we didn’t have to grab our legal papers,” Evans said.

“As soon as we got there, they asked me who JoNell was, and I said, ‘She’s my wife,” Ireland said. “Immediately, [they] let her sign papers. They took me back, but they allowed her to sign papers, talk to her, any of that. It was a very different feeling from the first time.”

“The change was just overwhelming to us almost,” Evans said, pausing for the first time in the interview. “I don’t know the right word for it. We were almost stunned by how easily they accepted that we were married. And, I think it’s because people really have changed over the last 10 years since Amendment 3 was passed. People don’t want to stand in the way of us taking care of each other and loving each other, and now the law, at that point, gave them the legal right to just accept our marriage.”

There's good reason to believe that Utah has, indeed, changed: A recent poll found an even split, with 48 percent of Utahns favoring marriage equality and 48 opposed. That's quite a shift from the 66 percent who voted for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in 2004.

Utah's government is continuing to fight a losing battle against equality—if they don't lose right now, it won't be long before they do. But Utah's voters are catching up with the values of equality and justice.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Jan 21, 2014 at 12:49 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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