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Same-sex newlyweds in Utah can file joint state taxes

Ravell Call / AP file

Jax and Heather Collins, seen here after getting married in Utah, are among the couples who can file joint state tax returns under a new ruling.

In the latest twist for same-sex couples who received marriage licenses in Utah before the U.S. Supreme Court put the process on hold, tax officials now say they can file joint state tax returns.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert's office last week had advised state agencies to take no steps to recognize the unions until an appeal could be heard — but the Justice Department then announced that those married during the 17 days while gay nuptials were legal would be eligible for federal marriage benefits.

The state tax commission then announced that if a couple is filing a joint federal return they can do the same for their state taxes if they were married before the end of the year.

Peggy Tomsic, one of the lawyers who represented the couples who challenged Utah's same-sex marriage ban, applauded the move.

"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.

"We look forward to the day when the State of Utah treats same-sex couples and their families equally in all respects.”

More than 1,000 same-sex marriages were performed after a federal judge ruled Utah's voter-approved ban was unconstitutional.

Little more than two weeks later, the nation's high court issued an emergency order blocking new marriages while the matter is appealed.

A federal in judge in Oklahoma struck down that state's gay marriage ban earlier this week but also issued a stay pending appeal, so same-sex couples still can't tie the knot there yet.