Supreme Court Halts Gay Marriage in Utah Pending Appeal to 10th Circuit

(KCPW News) The U.S. Supreme Court has put a halt to gay marriages in Utah while a federal court in Denver considers an appeal to the ruling that made them legal.

The Court voted to accept the state’s application for a stay of a recent ruling by a U.S. District Court judge. The stay will remain in effect while the state attempts to appeal the decision, meaning no further marriage licenses will be issued to same-sex couples pending a decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes says his office is already preparing their opening brief for the appeals court.

“The state’s opening brief is due January 27th before the 10th Circuit,” Reyes said. “And we have been working, by the way, with the legal team on the other side on an expedited briefing schedule, and we hope that that cooperation will continue, and we appreciate their professionalism.”

When asked about the hundreds of same-sex couples who managed to obtain a marriage license before the stay was granted, Reyes had no firm answer on how they would be handled by the state in the meantime.

“Going forward, I can say that we feel we’re on solid ground because the stay is in place. With regard to those marriages that have taken place before this day, we have not had a chance to evaluate and make a final conclusion on that,” Reyes said.

Reyes went on to say that the state had hoped to avoid such confusion when it asked the District Court for a stay back when the ruling was handed down in December. That request was denied, along with a subsequent request for a stay to the appeals court.

The legal team representing the plaintiffs called the Supreme Court’s order for a stay “disappointing.” Noting that the order was temporary, attorney James Magleby said in a statement, “Every day that goes by, same-sex couples and their children are being harmed by not being able to marry and be treated equally.”

Governor Gary Herbert called the Supreme Court’s decision “correct.” In his statement on Monday, 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.”