We have a couple new stories out of Utah this morning. First off, in a surprise move, the state Tax Commission said they will allow married gay and lesbian couples to file their taxes jointly this year.
Utah same-sex couples legally married in the Beehive State or any other state may file joint state income tax returns, the Utah State Tax Commission announced Thursday. It is the latest — and apparently final — tax guideline on the issue, at least for 2013 returns. Previously, the Utah Tax Commission had issued a policy statement saying it would not allow joint filing of state returns by gay or lesbian couples married legally in any other state. That was before a federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage but after the Internal Revenue Service had announced it would allow joint filing by same-sex couples married legally anywhere, regardless of their state of residence. The Utah tax agency did not immediately explain its reversal Thursday.
Next up, the ACLU is filing a class-action lawsuit to protect the legality of all the same-sex weddings performed this last month.
Equality on Trial reports:
The ACLU of Utah itself had solicited emails from same-sex couples whose marriages became legally in doubt after the stay. Now, there’s official confirmation that a new lawsuit will be filed, likely in “less than a week”: “When we announced Jan. 9 that we were seeking plaintiffs, that really was the beginning stages of planning and thinking of a lawsuit and after January 9th we did hear from hundreds of people,” said John Mejia, the legal director of the ACLU of Utah. Mejia said it’s not a matter of if, but when they file a suit. There’s also a question of what the plaintiffs should get.
In other Utah news, the Star Tribune reports that of the approximately 2,700 calls, emails, and letters sent to the Governor’s office as same-sex couples were marrying, two thirds supported marriage equality:
More than 2,700 calls, emails and letters flooded the Utah governor’s office in the days and weeks after a surprise ruling legalized gay marriage in the state… From the day the marriage ban was struck down through Jan. 15, Herbert received about 1,800 phone calls, letters and emails from those generally supporting of same-sex marriage, according to the governor’s office. Some of the messages did not necessarily endorse same-sex marriage but implored the governor to drop the legal fight. Another 900 messages were from opponents of gay marriage. Many said they felt their votes had been invalidated and their religious views ignored. A review of roughly 100 of the letters and phone call transcripts Thursday by The Associated Press showed several people contacted Herbert’s office more than once. Other messages came from advocacy groups or apparent social media campaigns to contact the governor en masse.
Over the Advocate, they’re profiling the first a couple to marry in the state.
Meet Seth Anderson, a social historian, and Michael Ferguson, a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering. You know them as the first gay couple to get married in Utah. Anderson leads us through the couple’s journey from their first date to their wedding day to the aftermath of having their marriage invalidated and their hope that the 1,300 same-sex marriages in Utah will be recognized not only by the federal government but also by their home state.
And finally, LGBTQ Nation reports that Utah is paying outside attorneys $300,000 to help defend the ban:
Utah will spend $300,000 to bring in a team of three outside attorneys to help defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban before a federal appeals court. The Utah Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday it has chosen Gene Schaerr of a Washington, D.C., law firm to lead the legal team. Schaerr has handled dozens of cases before federal appeals court, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a news release.
Looking back over the last year, it’s an amazing change. Here we are, now fighting for marriage equality rights in Oklahoma and Utah, with a number of other cases in conservative states ready to come to a head. Stunning.
Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Utah.