Peoria Public Radio Staff
Mon December 23, 2013
UPDATED: Gay Marriages Will Continue In Utah, Federal Judge Rules
Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 5:19 pm
Update at 1:22 p.m. ET. Gay Marriages Will Continue:
A federal judge on Monday refused to set aside a ruling that invalidated Utah's ban on gay marriage.
That means same-sex couples will be able to continue to receive marriage licenses across the state, even though the ruling will be appealed before a higher court.
Utah had asked U.S. District Court judge Robert Shelby for an emergency stay of the ruling he issued on Friday. The state argued that gay marriages should be put on hold, while the state appealed.
"Assist. Utah Attorney General Philip Lott had argued Monday that court should impose a stay because the judge's order last week caught everyone by surprise and disrupted the status quo. And because the state will otherwise appeal, and all same-sex marriage licenses issued would be null and void, if the decision is overturned.
"Lott said there was 'a cloud of uncertainty over the same-sex marriages currently taking place.'
"'No one wins, if Utah's marriage laws are changed back and forth," he argued. "The status quo should remain in tact.'
"'There is a great irony in the fact that for Utah to be allowed to become a state, it was compelled by the federal government to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.'"
Update at 6:16 p.m. ET. Another Stay Request:
Shortly after Shelby declined to stay his ruling, Utah asked the Tenth Circuit Court to step in.
"The State did so in order to avoid the confusion that Judge Shelby's decision and absence of a Stay are causing throughout Utah," Acting Attorney General Brian Tarbet said in a statement.
Gov. Gary R. Herbert said that he is committed to advancing the issue all the way through the judicial system.
"I recognize that this is a highly emotional issue with people of goodwill on both sides of the debate," Herbert said in a statement. "I encourage everyone to remain respectful of one another and of the legal process."
Our Original Post Continues:
In Utah, there's a scramble by same-sex couples to pick up marriage licenses before the state asks a federal judge to set aside a ruling that invalidated the state's ban on gay marriage.
"Couples began lining up at county courthouses in snowy, cold weather overnight, after a federal appeals court in Denver declined to issue an emergency stay," NPR's Howard Berkes tells our Newscast unit. "Attorneys for the state will be back in federal court this morning to plead with U.S. District Court judge Robert Shelby to halt the same-sex marriages until they get an appeal filed and considered."
As we've reported, in his ruling Shelby said the constitutional amendment, which voters in the predominately Mormon state passed overwhelmingly in 2004, irrationally demeans the dignity of same-sex couples.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that later this morning, Utah will argue that if Judge Shelby allows his ruling to stand while the state appeals, it could cause irreparable harm to same-sex couples. The state argues that if Shelby's ruling is overturned by a higher court, it will then leave those same-sex couples who married in Utah under a "cloud of uncertainty."
Still, this morning, the paper reports the lines at clerk's offices across the state were long:
"At the Salt Lake County clerk's office, the line for marriages wrapped around two floors, and there was an audible cheer when the door finally opened
"In Weber County, the first couple in line included a minister who had pushed to the front so he could get married and then officiate for others.
"Meanwhile, in Utah County, the clerk's office was not issuing same-sex marriage licenses, and turned away one couple."