More than 900 couples have gotten married in the state since the SC overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages. Now they have to wait again to see if it these unions will be void.
In a brief order issued last 6 January 2014 following an emergency appeal by the state of the 20 December 2013 ruling by US District Judge Robert Shelby, the SC put same-sex marriages on hold in Utah.
Judge Shelby ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages violate gay and lesbian couples’ constitutional rights. This ruling opened the door for hundreds of same-sex couples who got married in recent weeks.
It was not clear which of the arguments made by state officials had been convincing to the Justices. The state had argued that Judge Shelby’s decision preempted the Supreme Court’s power to be the final arbiter on the question. The state also argued that the interest of upholding the ban would prevent the difficulty of untangling marriages that had occured in the meantime if the ban were ultimately upheld in the courts.
“Clearly, the stay should have been granted with the original District Court decision in order to have avoided the uncertainty created by this unprecedented change,” Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert said. “I firmly believe this is a state-rights issue and I will work to defend the position of the people of Utah and our State Constitution,” he adds.
Utah voters approved the marriage ban in a 2004 referendum that defined marriage as the legal union between man and woman and restricts unmarried domestic unions with a margin of 65.8% to 33.2%.
The Supreme Court order will remain in effect until the Court of Appeals decides whether or not to uphold Shelby’s ruling.
Article | Louis Bretana • Photo | politico.com