Utah’s legislature approved a controversial marriage license that includes language banning marriage counseling and counseling couples for same-sex couples, as well as requiring that couples undergo counseling and therapy before marrying.
The Utah legislature passed the bill in a special session Tuesday night, with Republicans voting to override Gov.
Gary Herbert’s veto, and Democratic lawmakers voting to take the bill to the state’s highest court.
The bill was prompted by Utah’s recent marriage equality victories, when Gov.
Herbert vetoed a bill that would have prohibited religious organizations from using their tax-exempt status to endorse same-day marriages.
Herbert has since signed an executive order overturning the veto, but religious organizations were not allowed to use tax-exemption status to promote same-month weddings.
Chris Christie said in a statement Tuesday night that he opposes the bill and will veto it, but that it is a step in the right direction in Utah.
“The bill goes too far in prohibiting a couple from having counseling, support or marriage counseling,” Christie said.
“And it goes too much in trying to discriminate against couples who want to get married, especially those who want children.”
A spokesman for the governor did not immediately return a request for comment from The Associated Press on Tuesday night.
The proposed legislation would prohibit same-gender couples from receiving marriage licenses, and it also would prohibit religious organizations, including schools and hospitals, from providing marriage counseling or marriage services, including for same sex couples.
The bill also requires that marriage counseling must be offered by licensed counselors.
The new bill also would bar gay and lesbian couples from getting a license to wed in Utah, and bars gay and transgender couples from marrying in Utah if they can show they are not in a “well-ordered and stable relationship.”
It also requires people who have been married to another person for more than six months to have a court order requiring them to undergo counseling or therapy.
The new law also requires couples who are married in other states to undergo a “procedural process” for obtaining a license from the state of Utah.
Utah’s attorney general said the law could have a chilling effect on same-person marriages in Utah because it would prevent them from being held in the state.
“This bill does not provide the necessary protection for a couple to get a license or to marry,” Attorney General Mike Tucker said.
Tucker has said the new law would prevent the state from providing a legal framework for same gender marriages in the future, saying he is concerned about the impact on the state if it was to be enforced.
Republican Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said he’s “sick and tired” of the bill, and said it is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
“I don’t think it is fair to the citizens of Utah to be punished for the decisions of their elected officials,” Reyes said.
Republican lawmakers on the committee that approved the bill argued that it’s not clear whether the bill is necessary, saying that they don’t know how many same-date weddings are taking place in Utah and don’t want to know.
“There are many different kinds of couples,” said Republican state Sen. Mark Pody, who sponsored the bill.
“We don’t have a lot of experience with marriage counseling.
We don’t need it.
But if we have to provide counseling, then we have the authority to do it.”
Democratic state Sen, Kim Wyman, said the bill could have prevented some couples from having a valid marriage license.
“We’re not saying this is the best way to do this, but we’re saying that it doesn’t hurt anybody, and that’s what we want,” Wyman said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.