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New Utah Marriage Law Protects Interracial Couples, In Effect This Month

Published Tuesday, May. 7th, 2024

An interracial couple, man and woman embrace outdoors in the sun on their wedding day
Photo: PeopleImages / iStock

A new law that protects the right to marry in Utah regardless of race, ethnicity, and national origin went into effect earlier this month, on May 1st. The bill repeals and replaces an older section of the Utah Code which only protected interracial marriage rights.  


The new section, §30-1-2.4, explicitly states that a legal marriage cannot be invalidated on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nation of origin, and that a county clerk’s office cannot refuse to marry a couple based on these characteristics. The law does allow a county clerk to appoint a deputy to solemnize a marriage in their place, however.


Rep. Anthony E. Loubet, the bill’s sponsor, told St. George News in February, when the legislation was headed for the Senate:


“It was very clear that you couldn’t discriminate against somebody getting married, based off their race, ethnicity or national origin. 


…But what this does is update the code so it reflects what our current practices are and then allows people the peace of mind knowing that if anything ever happens or changes on the federal side, they still have their protection on the state level.”  (St. George News)


Loubet was referring to the possibility that federal protections for interracial marriage, established by Loving v Virginia (1967), could be overturned by a conservative Supreme Court, just as Roe v. Wade (1973) was overturned in June of 2022.


This is a warranted concern, because the Loving and Roe decisions both rely on the previous Court’s (now overturned) understanding and application of the 14th Amendment. Obergefell v Hodges, the case that ensured marriage equality for same-sex couples in 2015, also relies on this application of the 14th Amendment; same-sex marriage protections were not included in this bill, however, and (defunct) same-sex marriage bans are still on the books in Utah's statutes and state constitution. 



In short, the new law protects the marriage rights of interracial and international couples in Utah regardless of future SCOTUS decisions impacting Loving v Virginia. 


HB 0134 was introduced in January 2024 by Rep. Anthony Loubet [R], with the support of  joint sponsor Sen. Karen Kwan [D], and was signed by Gov. Cox on March 18th, 2024 following almost unanimous votes in the House and Senate. See the full bill text and history here: H.B. 134 Marriage Modifications



Read the new law below: 


30-1-2.4 Recognition and validation of a marriage regardless of the race, ethnicity, or national origin of the parties.


(1) As used in this section:

(a) "Eligible couple" means two individuals that may legally marry each other in this state.

(b) "Specified characteristic" means the race, ethnicity, or national origin of a party to the Marriage.

(2) Regardless of the date of the marriage, a marriage between two individuals may not be deemed invalid or prohibited because of a specified characteristic.

(3) The office of a county clerk may not refuse to issue a marriage license to an eligible couple because of a specified characteristic.

(4) (a) The office of a county clerk may not refuse to solemnize the marriage of an eligible couple because of a specified characteristic.

(b) Subsection (4)(a) does not prevent a county clerk from delegating or deputizing another individual to solemnize a marriage in accordance with Subsections 17-20-4(2) and 30-1-6(2) (l).


§ 30-1-2.2 Repealed: Validation of interracial marriages.


Enacted by Chapter 325, 2024 General Session

This legislation is a win for interracial couples in the state, as well as their families and allies. We love to see protections for marriage equality put in place! Here’s hoping that same-sex marriage protections are next. 



How does this law impact AMM Ministers who officiate weddings in Utah? 


The new law discussed above does not directly impact ministers and officiants in Utah.


Marriage licenses are issued by Utah county clerks, who will verify a couple's eligibility to marry before issuing their documents. As always, however, it’s important for officiants to confirm a couple’s identity before performing their marriage ceremony and signing their marriage license. 


Click the links below to learn more about your role as a wedding officiant and how to handle a marriage license: 





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The Loving family, a black and white photo of the couple and their children

On June 12 we celebrate Loving Day - Learn about the couple behind this important moment in the fight for civil rights.  Read the full article here. 



Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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