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Judge denies request for stay in ruling striking down Utah’s gay marriage ban

State lawyers will make third request to 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to grant stay
Monday, December 23, 2013
via: Equality UtahHundreds of same-sex couples wrapped around two floors at the Salt Lake County Complex on Monday morning waiting to obtain marriage licenses.

via: Equality Utah
Hundreds of same-sex couples wrapped around two floors at the Salt Lake County Complex on Monday morning waiting to obtain marriage licenses.

Updated: 7:00 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge on Monday allowed gay marriage to continue in Utah, rejecting a request to put same-sex weddings on hold as the state appeals a decision that has sent couples flocking to county clerk offices for marriage licenses.

Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage Friday, ruling the voter-approved measure is a violation of gay couples’ constitutional rights. The state then asked him to put a stop to the weddings, but he rejected the request.

Shelby’s ruling is far from the end of the legal wrangling on the topic. The state quickly filed a request with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put gay marriage on hold, and that court could rule as soon as Monday evening or Tuesday.

The same court, in Denver, likely will hear the full appeal of the case several months from now.

In the meantime, the rush on marriage licenses continues for gay couples around Utah.

Nearly 700 gay couples have obtained marriage licenses since Friday, with most coming in the state’s most populous county.

People began lining up Sunday night at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office with the hope of getting licenses amid the uncertainty of the pending ruling. Couples then got married once every few minutes in the lobby to the sound of string music from a violin duet.

They anxiously eyed their cellphones for news on Shelby’s decision, and a loud cheer erupted once word spread that he wouldn’t be blocking weddings. “We feel equal!” one man shouted; his partner called it “this magic happening out of the clear blue.”

Adam Blatter said he was in a panic to get married Monday morning before a judge could halt the issuance of licenses. He and his partner, Joseph Chavez, were elated when it became clear their wait was worthwhile, and they were shocked that it was happening in a state long known as one of the most conservative in the country.

“We expected Utah to be the last place we could get married,” Blatter said.

Even if the 10th Circuit grants a stay, the marriages licenses that already have been issued probably will remain valid, said Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at Virginia’s University of Richmond who has tracked legal battles for gay marriage. It’s not entirely certain, however, because Utah’s situation has unfolded differently than other states, and there’s no direct precedent, he said.

Not all counties were issuing the licenses. In Utah County, one of the most conservative in the state, County Clerk Brian Thompson made a conscious decision to defy the judge’s ruling and not grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Thompson said he wants to see first if the appeals court grants the stay.

“I totally understand the position I’m in,” he said, “but I have a responsibility as an elected official to proceed with caution.”

The 10th Circuit already has rejected two previous requests from the state based on procedural matters, but it has not yet considered the case on merits.

Shelby’s decision to overturn Utah’s same-sex marriage ban has drawn attention given the state’s long-standing opposition to gay marriage and its position as headquarters for the Mormon church, which teaches that homosexual activity is a sin. The ruling makes Utah the 18th state where same-sex couples can legally wed.

It’s estimated that nearly two-thirds of Utah’s 2.8 million residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Mormons dominate the state’s legal and political circles.

The Mormon church was one of the leading forces behind California’s short-lived ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, which voters approved in 2008. The church said Friday it stands by its support for “traditional marriage,” and hopes a higher court validates its belief that marriage is between a man and woman.

In court Monday, Utah lawyer Philip Lott repeated the words “chaotic situation” to describe what has happened in Utah since clerks started allowing gay weddings. He urged the judge to “take a more orderly approach than the current frenzy.”

“Utah should be allowed to follow its democratically chosen definition of marriage,” he said of the 2004 gay marriage ban.

Lott later said the state was disappointed with Shelby’s latest ruling and would continue its legal battle.

In explaining his decision, Shelby said the state made basically the same arguments he had already rejected. He added the situation in Utah has become “something of a mess” because the state did not have a request to halt the marriages ready at the time of his ruling Friday or in the hours afterward.

Lott countered that they had no prior notification the ruling was coming, and said the fact that it was the Friday before Christmas complicated matters.

Adding to the chaos is the fact that Utah Attorney General John Swallow s tepped down about a month ago amid a scandal involving allegations of bribery and offering businessmen protection in return for favors. The state has since had an acting attorney general, and Gov. Gary Herbert appointed a replacement Monday who will serve until a special election next year.

Peggy Tomsic, the lawyer for the same-sex couples who brought the case, called gay marriage the civil rights movement of this generation and said it was the new law of the land in Utah.

“The cloud of confusion that the state talks about is only their minds,” she said.

Tomsic added she was relieved that Shelby stuck to his ruling and avoided being pressured by a moral or political majority in the state.

Shelby said in Friday’s ruling that the constitutional amendment that Utah voters approved violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. He said the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would a ffect opposite-sex marriages in any way.

Legal scholars speculate that the case could someday be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court if the justices decide they want to weigh in on whether state same-sex marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution.

Tobias, the constitutional law professor, said that’s a real possibility but far from imminent. It will depend on what the appeals court decides and what happens with other court challenges in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia, he said.

“I think the Supreme Court would prefer to not have a national rule and rather let states thrash this out individually,” Tobias said.

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71 more reader comments:

  1. They need to give it up and accept the decision! PERIOD!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:44pm
  2. The appeals court denied the request from the state. Gay couples can continue to get married.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:44pm
  3. At this point it goes from being religiously ridiculous to just being flat out mean and arrogant.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:45pm
  4. they need to give it a rest the Pandora is OUT of the box there is no going back…….tick….tock….tick….tock hatters gonna hate bigots are gonna be bigots !!!! FORWARD…FORWARD…AMERICA GOES ONE STATE @ A TIME

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:46pm
  5. Until a state goes back to SCOTUS and makes this a nation wide ruling.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:58pm
  6. Give it a rest already!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:46pm
  7. The governor does not understand the “will of the people of Utah.” The federal judge is overriding the rich politicians that would never even put this decision on a ballot to find out the “will of the people of Utah.”

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:46pm
  8. YOU GO GLEN COCO!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:47pm
  9. They need to back the fuck off, jeez.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:49pm
  10. ‘Murica! Where we must work hard to prevent or take away the rights of others because we hate them!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:51pm
  11. STOP IT! STOP STOP STOP!!! Or I will throw myself down on the floor and have a tantrum.

    Seriously, here in California the pent up demand was satisfied in about 2 weeks and we just don’t hear about it anymore. No lightning bolts or plagues or anything like that, just people marrying who they want to marry, what is wrong with that? Duh.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:52pm
  12. I kinda hope this winds up in the SCOTUS and sets the precedent for nationwide equality. Utah holds a special place in my heart and I think it would be cool if it’s the state that finally turns the tides for good.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:53pm
  13. Agree!

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:04pm
  14. Enough of the hateful behavior, Utah officials! Stop thinking everybody has to follow your religion and let us live in peace!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:54pm
  15. whatever happened to separation of church and state? the law of the land & not the church should rule !

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:55pm
  16. why don’t they just go ahead and legalize it nationally???? I don’t see why we as a nation founded on seperation of church and state cannot allow same-sex couples to marry. it is a celebration of love no matter the sex and we should not deny any human that right. it’s not gay-rights, it’s basic human-rights – noone is trying to legalize incestual, inanimate, or bestial marriage – this is 2 un-related HUMANS attempting to officialize and celebrate their relationship. who is this country to deny that??? People act like if 2 gay people get married then the world will burst into flames and hellfire and brimstone will rain down – and yes I get the sodam and gomorrah reference, but come on people use that noggin the powers that be gave you and THINK! If God or whoever/whatever you beleive in didn’t want someone to be that way then why did he create them as such? and don’t give me that BS about it being a choice. who in their right mind would choose to be a part of a minority and choose to be an outcast and have the vast majority of the world look down on them??? and gay people dont just wake up one morning and say… hey i’m going to have some coffee, pancakes, and be gay today, many realize they are before adolescence. and hey scientists have even mapped a genome that they beleive is the genetic marker for sexuality. and the Kinsey scale study shows that most of humanity falls in the gray area, neither 100% gay or 100% straight. and why does homosexualty scare so many people? if you aren’t gay, no gay person is going to come and make you be gay, it’s their life, why try and take up the role of hitler and participate in this form of attempted genocide? in my honest opinion it’s natural and should be welcomed into society – hell even the animal kingdom has homosexuality!! but anyway, I’ve learned that humanity as a whole is overwhelmingly stupid and I should not be surprised by it’s shortcommings, however retarded they may be. but ahem *gets off sopabox*, I will stop here because I could go on all day.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:56pm
  17. What a waste of tax payer monies. If the judge grants stays on the licenses, then it will just get overturned again in either the State Supreme Court of Utah… and if not there, it has a very good chance to hit SCOTUS and finally make this whole issue national law. The opponents are not smart if they truly want to keep traditional marriage intact because they are playing with fire…. they would be better off not taking this higher because SCOTUS is clearly on par with LGBTQ rights.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:56pm
  18. It should read, “Utah’s official douchebags scramble to halt ….”

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:59pm
  19. Oh this should be made into a reality TV show it’s so entertaining! LMAO!!! That’s right, scramble you dirtbag bigots!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:00pm
  20. Totally mean and arrogant if they try and reverse this!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:01pm
  21. How I hope they fail!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:02pm
  22. Let them fight to stop it, it will make our victory all the more sweeter. We WILL have our rights!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:06pm
  23. Number 18! It’s safe to say that we won in Utah and that civil rights prevailed and will stand. Every state that has seen same-sex marriages edge their way in has been won, and Utah will be no different; these marriages cannot and won’t be undone. If the issue gets kicked up to the US Supreme Court again, it will be the domino that knocks the rest of them over. Wouldn’t it be poetic justice and sweet irony if conservative Utah, and specifically, those who meddled so heavily in the Prop 8 battle a few years ago, are the very entity that causes cause same-sex marriage to be the law of the land across the whole country? I have been laughing about it all morning! :D

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:10pm
  24. Well said Opus.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:36pm
  25. lol

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:13pm
  26. I bet the Mormon church just ch*t a brick LOL

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:15pm
  27. I don’t think the Courts are going to stop it. Obviously SCOTUS would’ve stopped it in California if they had any scrap of a theory to go on but they don’t. The Prop 8 group just elicited a bunch of yawns and dismissive gestures from the various Courts here where they tried to stop same sex marriage after the SCOTUS punt on the issue.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:15pm
  28. I think the Mormons will come around pretty quickly, they seem to be highly sensitive to politics and this is one issue that is quickly slipping away from the conservatives. I certainly don’t think it will take decades like with the racist issue in the 1970s.

    I’m surprised the Methodists are holding out, I thought they were liberal.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:19pm
  29. The Southern Baptists call them Liberal, but that is about it. :)

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:25pm
  30. Since I watch people commenting in conservative pages, I've observed that they use "liberal" to insult anyone who's nicer than them, no matter how conservative they are.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:10pm
  31. SCOTUS has and will make this the Law of the land!
    For those who don’t like GAY Marriage fine just don’t get one! Problem solved.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:32pm
  32. I can’t get over the wording, as though the gay plague is about to destroy them all or something!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:39pm
  33. Omg… they are getting their little weiners in a knot….

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:40pm
  34. If you don’t like gay marriage don’t marry gay does nothing to your relationship so let them marry and be free

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:48pm
  35. 3rd strike, coming up..

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:51pm
  36. Resistance is futile….you will be assimilated!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:03pm
  37. The only thing about this nasty treatment that makes me happy is that these “officials” are probably ruining their own Christmas. They’re going to lose!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:14pm
  38. Unless they want to get sued into oblivion, they can’t stop what is already happening. Unless the 10th circuit says that the ruling is wrong, same-sex couples can still get hitched!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:19pm
  39. i just posted this i am so happy for the people of Utah …

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:22pm
  40. Good luck and Godspeed, Utah brothers and sisters! Go now and get married! #LoveIsLove

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:23pm
  41. NICE!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:23pm
  42. AWESOME!!! I’m still pleasantly shocked!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:24pm
  43. Utah bitch slapped three times now. Utah bigots still can’t show the court how two strangers of the same sex marrying has anything to do with them.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:24pm
  44. ;-)

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:32pm
  45. That’s amazing since Utah is mostly Mormon. My son’s adoptive father is from there and Mormon and gay (: glad to hear more are realizing that love is love no matter who it’s with.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:25pm
  46. YAY!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:29pm
  47. Right On!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:29pm
  48. These bans have been choking us for far too long. It’s time to get rid of them in every state it applies.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:29pm
  49. This is absolutely amazing news great news!!!* :’))))) So Happy for the LGBTQI in Utah state. :)

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:31pm
  50. This is awesome! So what happens next in Utah?

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:34pm
  51. Your out!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:38pm
  52. It’s a fantastic victory for Utah, now lets lift the ban on every other country in the world who have decided they can dictate to human gay rights on who’s allowed to marry and who isn’t. Equality for all.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:40pm
  53. Viva Utah!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:41pm
  54. Way to go Utah!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:42pm
  55. Enjoying this…

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:50pm
  56. Kurenai, I noticed the same thing too. They throw out a word yet they lack the knowledge of its meaning. It’s ironic and funny because they sound retarded by trying use it like an insult.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:52pm
  57. Im from Utah and im so happy their finally seeing that everyone deserves equal rights :) now to find my cousin Peter an awesome guy

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 6:58pm
  58. Yeah baby! Thank the Lord for a reasonable judge.. Crazy happy. Let’s keep the tend moving across the country maybe it will reach the South eventually

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:08pm
  59. Millions of Mormons just simultaneously hyperventilated.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:17pm
  60. This makes me smile all over again…. Woohoo

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:18pm
  61. Awesome!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:54pm
  62. HOORAY

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:57pm
  63. Stop the haters dead n their tracks…

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:08pm
  64. Hopefully the 10th Circuit court judges will also uphold the US Constitution. I wonder when the people of Utah will tire of this and demand that their tax dollars no longer be spent by their Republican governor and his Attorney General on hate and discrimination?

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:16pm
  65. Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:22pm
  66. If it can be done in Utah it can be done in Texas equality for all

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:40pm
  67. Equal rights all around!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:48pm
  68. Sure wish Wisconsin would follow!! All the states around us it’s legal but in Wisconsin it’s evil!! Wish we could up and move!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:57pm
  69. Why don’t you take your fight and put it against something worth fighting, lets say maybe bullying is a big one. We pay our taxes just like y’all do. You know what else is a sin, HATE!!!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 1:07am
  70. Ohio is cracking too !

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:48am
  71. Ohio is on the move, finally, too!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 24, 2013 at 2:49am