Gay rights groups on Friday cheered the Obama administration's decision to recognize the more than 1,300 marriage licenses Utah issued to gay and lesbian couples during the 17 days when such unions were legal in the state. The announcement comes two days after Utah officials said they would not recognize the marriage licenses issued by the state.

(Related: Federal government to recognize Utah gay marriages.)

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, applauded Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement.

“These 1,360 Utah couples are married, plain and simple, and they should be afforded every right and responsibility of marriage,” Griffin said in a statement. “Attorney General Eric Holder has once again shown the kind of leadership that earns you a spot in the history books. This is only the beginning of this fight, and this work continues until marriage equality returns to Utah for good, and full equality reaches every American in all 50 states.”

Also cheering was Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry.

“The Attorney General’s determination that the federal government must respect married same-sex couples in Utah as what they are – married – is lawful, predictable, and correct. Even though the 1000+ couples married in Utah are encountering unfair treatment and disrespect by their home state and the other remaining states that discriminate, these couples are as married as any couple on the planet. As cases move forward in Utah and numerous states around the country, Freedom to Marry will continue working until all couples share in the freedom to marry and all marriages are respected throughout the United States. We applaud the Attorney General and the Administration for their fidelity to the law, the freedom to marry, and the Constitution's command of equality,” Wolfson said in an emailed statement.