Utah attorney general hires 3 lawyers to fight same-sex marriage ruling

Married gay couples can file jointly, tax commission decides

Published: Thursday, Jan. 16 2014 3:10 p.m. MST

"Although we recognize that Kitchen vs. Herbert is a potentially divisive case, it is one of national importance and warrants the best possible representation on both sides,” he said.

Earlier Thursday, the State Tax Commission said that same-sex couples who were married between Dec. 20, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2013, or whose marriages were solemnized in other states before Dec. 31, 2013, may file individual state tax returns as "married."

Tax commissioners met with the attorney general's office in the past week and said they "feel this is the best way to go," said Charlie Roberts, tax commission spokesman.

The decision runs counter to a governor's office directive last week putting recognition of same-sex marriages in Utah on hold after the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay to Shelby's ruling.

The memo to members of Gov. Gary Herbert's cabinet, based on an opinion from Reyes, said the original laws governing marriage in Utah return to effect pending final resolution by the courts.

"It is important to understand that those laws include not only a prohibition of performing same-sex marriages but also recognizing same-sex marriages," Herbert's chief of staff, Derek Miller, wrote in the memo.

Roberts said the tax commission "fully respects" the governor's position but believes for the 2013 tax year it must abide by Shelby's ruling.

"Where they were legally married and authorized to be married, we feel because of that they can file as married on their state returns," he said.

The tax commission has no mechanism to track a tax filer's gender, Roberts said, adding that that isn't the reason for the decision, but it was a factor.

Peggy Tomsic, an attorney for the three gay and lesbian couples who sued Utah over its same-sex marriage ban, applauded the commission's decision.

"These couples have willingly assumed the mutual responsibilities and obligations of marriage, and they deserve the same certainty, stability and protection as other married couples," she said.

Contributing: Peter Samore

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy; DNewsPolitics

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