A federal judge on Monday ordered the state of Utah to recognize the marriages of more than 1,300 gay and lesbian couples who exchanged vows during the 17-day window when such unions were legal in the state.

In his 75-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball said the state's refusal to recognize the marriages of gay couples married after a federal judge overturned Utah's ban on December 20 causes harm to the families.

“These legal uncertainties and lost rights cause harm each day that the marriage is not recognized,” Kimball wrote.

Kimball stayed his ruling three weeks, giving state officials an opportunity to appeal the ruling to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Plaintiffs in the case, four gay couples who married in Utah, are represented by the ACLU.

Tony Milner and Matt Barraza, one of the couples involved in the case, told The Salt Lake Tribune that adoption proceedings were stopped after the state decided it would not recognize the marriages that had already taken place as it pursues an appeal.

Attorneys for the state said that the couples' marriages should not be recognized until all appeals have been exhausted.

Complicating matters is a ruling handed down Friday by the Utah Supreme Court granting a stay in several lower court orders requiring the Department of Health to issue birth certificates in adoptions involving married gay couples.

(Related: Utah Supreme Court grants stay in gay adoption rulings.)