Utah grappling with legal status of married same-sex couples
"The attorney general is trying to figure that out, but it's going to be just as germane to county attorneys and different folks as well, because what do you do with those individuals if they're asking for benefits and other kinds of legal things that take effect?"
Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson initially refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for nearly a week after Shelby's ruling, partly because he said he didn't know where they would stand if a stay were granted.
"That was one of my concerns to hold out from the beginning," he said. "That put a lot of people in limbo."
Thompson said he doesn't know how many licenses were issued or recorded in Utah County because he hasn't kept track.
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen estimates her office issued about 800 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She said she didn't know how many of them were married because her clerks haven't had time to record the information.
"It's a little crazy around here," she said. "It's been a bit of a roller coaster for the staff. We're doing the best we can."
One thing Swensen said she wants to do is offer refunds to same-sex couples who bought marriage licenses but didn't get married. She said that would be the fair thing to do, but she's waiting for legal advice on whether she could do it.
The attorney general's office announced Dec. 31 that bids for outside counsel were being sought, but a day earlier, Reyes' chief deputy, Brian Tarbet, said the office was "working through" the procurement process to hire a firm he declined to name.
"The reality was they wanted to do this right, so they put a formal bid process in place," Larsen said. "Had they just wanted to secure a firm to go forward with this, they could have done so legally."
It's not clear whether the firm the office initially wanted to hire submitted a bid. Bachman, the assistant attorney general, declined to provide details of the bids received, including how many law firms wanted the work.
"It's a low number," Bachman said. "It doesn't mean we didn't get something qualified in there, either. But frankly, we want to have competition."
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