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Utah’s same-sex marriage ban back in court as judge considers stay motion

Monday, December 23, 2013

Update, 8:30 a.m. MST:

More than 1,000 same-sex couples turned out at county clerks offices in Utah Monday morning ahead of a 9 a.m. hearing to consider a stay in Friday’s ruling. County offices opened at 8 a.m., giving hopeful gay couples at least one hour to obtain marriage licenses in the event the court orders a stay.

Additional coverage is here


SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge on Monday is set to consider a request from the state of Utah to block same-sex marriages that have been taking place since Friday when the state’s gay marriage ban was overturned.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled Utah’s law passed violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights under the 14th Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby

Lawyers for the state want the ruling put on hold as they appeal the decision that has put Utah in the national spotlight because of its long-standing opposition to gay marriage.

Shelby will hold a hearing on the request Monday morning.

On Sunday, a federal appeals court rejected the state’s emergency request to stay the ruling, saying they couldn’t rule on a stay since Shelby hasn’t acted on the motion before him.

Following Shelby’s surprising ruling Friday afternoon, gay and lesbian couples rushed to a county clerk’s office in Salt Lake City to get marriage licenses. More than 100 couples wed as others cheered them on in what became an impromptu celebration an office building about three miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church.

Hundreds of couples are expected to arrive at county clerks offices early Monday morning in hopes of getting marriage licenses before a possible halt if Shelby grants the stay its request.

Legal experts say that even if a stay is granted, the licenses that have already been issued will likely still be valid.

For now, a state considered as one of the most conservative in the nation has joined the likes of California and New York to become the 18th state where same-sex couples can legally wed.

Utah is home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which 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 that it stands by its support for “traditional marriage” and that it hopes a higher court validates its belief that marriage is between a man and woman.

In Shelby’s 53-page ruling, he said the constitutional amendment Utah voters approved in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Shelby said the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.

The decision drew a swift and angry reaction Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who said he was disappointed in an “activist federal judge attempting to override the will of the people of Utah.” The state quickly took steps to appeal the ruling and halt the process, setting up Monday’s hearing before Shelby.

The ruling has thrust Shelby into the national spotlight. He has been on the bench for less than two years, appointed by President Barack Obama after GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch recommended him in November 2011.

Shelby served in the Utah Army National Guard from 1988 to 1996 and was a combat engineer in Operation Desert Storm. He graduated from the University of Virginia law school in 1998 and clerked for the U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene in Utah, then spent about 12 years in private practice before he became a judge.

Coverage continues following 9 a.m. (MST) hearing.

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66 more reader comments:

  1. how asad

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:03am
  2. Let it go!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:05am
  3. mormon state and gay marriage…..i missed something

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:06am
  4. Why though? If you don’t support same-sex marriage, don’t attend or participate in one. Why can’t they allow people to live their lives and mind their own businesses?

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:06am
  5. Well, TJay, if we step back from the immediate emotional response to this, and look at the judges actions, we will see that he is setting up the plaintiffs in order to let them present their objections for the court records. Then, when he denies them their suit, it will go down in the law books as a precedent, which will enable other states, in the future, to throw out other cases against same sex marriage, based on the precedent set up in this case, thus making the whole process much shorter.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:07am
  6. They are Mormons, they can't stand to let others live their own lives nor to mind their own business.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:17am
  7. Because christians in general cannot stand to see anyone experience any happiness in any context that falls outside of their execrable religion.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 2:38pm
  8. Not only Mormons, but any religious zealot seems fixated on forcing everybody to live by their chosen religion. It's almost like "I think it's right, so I have to make everybody else do it, even if they don't believe".

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 2:39pm
  9. damn bible thumpers never quit (but neither do we)

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:06am
  10. I didnt really comprehend what I just read..

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:07am
  11. I don’t understand why there is so much hate in this world. We all are human. We all should have our rights. Just because your book for religion was written how many years ago? that you make actual love punish now days. the context from back than to now is totally different. we should all not hate. we should all just love an be able to do what we want even if it is marrying the same sex like really who cares? who should you be to tell me i can’t marry someone i love but yet you can marry who you love because your straight? i dont sit at your gatherings with signs saying its satans work. if it was satans work than how come there is so much love an accepting and compassion? the only hate i see is the people who aren’t accepting. god forsake you actually let people who love each other marry one another.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:12am
  12. How sad all this hate!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:13am
  13. We knew this would happen, but EQUALITY will still win in the end.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:13am
  14. Ugh these people are fucking stupid -__-

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:16am
  15. Hello everyone come and see this page, If you Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, transgender, or Straight come and like this page and meet people around the world. Have a nice day :)

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:21am
  16. Thought stay was declined… Oh I see. Emergency stay was declined by higher court

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:24am
  17. It’s a bit late bigoted losers!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:27am
  18. didnt work for jersey aint gonna work for utah!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:31am
  19. He did it once… Let’s see if he’ll do it again!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 7:52am
  20. Those people can’t allow other people to be happy if they disagree with the way they do so. That’s really pitiful.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:09am
  21. Patience. Let Utah appeal this to the Supreme Court. Let Utah be the state which gives the court the argument to overturn all marriage bans as unconstitutional. It will be poetic justice. Utah! Oh the irony.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:20am
  22. delaying the inevitable

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:21am
  23. I saw reports today that this had been dismissed. Now it’s being considered again?

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:22am
  24. It was the " emergency " one. Yeah because we are dying here in Utah. The governor needs to get a life!

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:37pm
  25. I live in utah and just wanted everyone to know what is going on. Yes the emergency stay was denied but they are have a meeting at 9 o’clock tomorrow to present to judge shelbly(the judge who over turned the ban on gay marriage.) as Richard said if the stay is accepted it will go to Supreme Court which will rule all of USA banning same sex marriage unconstitutional. But the after nosy generals office has no fight. I think it’s safe to say utah IS the 18 state.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:23am
  26. Chelsie, I have been saying for 10 years, this will be a federal issue before long. States, are realizing this, and so are the judges. Make it federal law. But for now, Chelsie, I celebrate the community in UTAH, huge deal, huge.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:45am
  27. This is a rollercoaster! My nerves are all over the place! I won't be able to relax until this is all over.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 12:30pm
  28. one day, it will happen in all states....yes, people will fight it..but it will happen.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 2:25pm
  29. I hope we are!

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:33pm
  30. Attorney*

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:24am
  31. Here in Salt Lake City/County, we enjoy a higher per capita LGBTQI population than many urban centers of comparable size, and have come a very long way in progressive local politics/unity-building. 9 years ago, Amendment 3 to the Utah Constitution passed (which was just found unconstitutional by the court). If that vote had happened even 1 year ago, I believe it might have been defeated. Fortunately, the court has recognized that our rights under the 14th amendment are not, and should not be up to a vote.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:40am
  32. Another thing is that the vote/poll was from 03-04, with 66% being against, but according to polls from February 2012, 71% say that same-sex couple should have equal rights, whether it be marriages or civil unions. Obviously we have give up in the world, so instead of living in the past, why not start living in the present and future?

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:47am
  33. Why? Let the bigots die out.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 9:08am
  34. The supreme court Will Not overturn The new gay marriage law because it would be unconstitutional acording to The usa supreme court

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 10:00am
  35. The SCOTUS will overthrow any state laws banning human rights.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 10:08am
  36. “An activist federal judge” following that “activist constitution” written by those “activist founding fathers”

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:02am
  37. Hopefully those diligent Mormons will follow appeal all the way to SCOTUS Then we can finally have all the bans lifted and put an end to this thing. The smart play is to not appeal and accept the defeat but they’re way too encompassed in their fervor and vitriol to do that. It’s ironic but it’s conceivable the main proponents of prop 8 could actual be responsible for nationwide marriage equality. That would be God’s sweet justice I think

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:09am
  38. Once again our human rights are left up to the mindset of an individual’s mind set why are we second class citizens ?

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:34am
  39. Love is love, let go already!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 11:41am
  40. OMG, the Mormons broke the Sabbath and worked on Sunday. Guess the LDS Church can break its on laws.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 12:10pm
  41. Are they really that cold hearted to want a stay just so some people can’t get married right now?!? It’s almost xmas for fucks sake leave people alone !

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 12:46pm
  42. Seems like Utah should have put their time and money in their own state instead of focusing all their efforts on Californias prop 8…..buwahaha

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 12:59pm
  43. You wonder why the GOP wants to fight what they know is a loosing battle. I hope the people of Utah sees the GOP for that they are and not vote them in office. I also hope the United States government will finally see churches like the Mormon church, who refuses to separate it self from making law governing decision and start taxing them properly.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 1:03pm
  44. Give it up! Equity is here for good

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 1:14pm
  45. Isn’t it sad that states can play with our families like this? Makes me sick when here in New Jersey Christie wanted to put our families to a vote disregarding many of us have children. Sickening

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 1:14pm
  46. Sucks that One Persons decision can take away civil rights. Let’s hope he does his job, leaves his personal and religious beliefs out of it and makes the right decision.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 1:29pm
  47. Hmmm. Former National Guard and Iraq veteran and a clearly qualified judge recommended by that liberal icon Orrin Hatch. This judge is clearly an activist whackjob who needs to be immediately impeached for thwarting the will of the people of Utah…NOT!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 2:17pm
  48. I doubt that the A.G. has thought this through. The appeal is unlikely to be accepted, but if it were the A.G. could be personally responsible for the case going to The Supreme Court which would have to rule in favor of equality. That would make the A.G. of Utah personally responsible for making same sex marriage legal everywhere. That would be sweet karma.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 2:47pm
  49. If we get it in Utah. We will get it everywhere soon. It will take some time, but they won’t stop this snowball rolling downhill.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 2:49pm
  50. Plez let it stay!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 2:52pm
  51. Round and Round we go. Why cant the haters just leave well enough alone and stand on the right side of history and support human rights for everyone? I just don’t get it. And the judge that considers the ‘stay’ should be ashamed of themselves…

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:30pm
  52. ugh why is this such a big deal? just let people get married,

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:33pm
  53. As did with segregation, this too will become history. All states will legalize it and it won’t be challenged anymore. I don’t see them trying to challenge civil rights anymore, so I know the fighting will end at some point. They are going to lose in the end, and all will be better.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:38pm
  54. How about fuck that church. Religion needs to be permanently separated from government already.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:40pm
  55. No one should have a say in how other people love except for those people themselves. There never had to be a vote if heterosexuals could marry, it was just implied

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:40pm
  56. Hoping for the right decision. Have a Happy holiday season and a safe new year!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:42pm
  57. sending all my prayer and hopes that all of you can get married!!! I live in WA… Love Ya!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:45pm
  58. Grow up you stupid court system!!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:47pm
  59. I’m with you LeXi Peets. So sick of bigots justifying hate with the bible. Keep that shit out of my life and government- now!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 3:54pm
  60. The federal judge was correct, and I’m glad he had the coconuts to issue his ruling without adding an automatic stay on the order. Meanwhile, the governor and attorney general need to get their noses out of everyone elses’ crotches, mind their own business, and stop being such hypocrites – let consenting adults marry! (By the way, the Gov and the AG keep saying “protect traditional marriage,” but in Utah, that actually means polygamy.)

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:09pm
  61. John it does not mean polygamy. I do not agree with the major religion in my state and do not agree with their views on marriage but polygamy is no longer a part of the church. If we want equal rights, do we have to do it by passing judgment and making false statements about others? Lets remember what is important here.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:18pm
  62. Bre, I'm not making judgements, simply making a statement. Do you understand what "traditional" means? Joseph Smith founded the church with polygamy as a central tenet. The church only abandoned polygamy when that option was given as an ultimatum by the United States as a condition for the Utah Territory to be granted statehood. I'm simply saying that defining traditional marriage as "one man, one woman" is a lie, and that "one man, one woman" marriage is a current, modern construct.

    Replied on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:25pm
  63. Praying for equality from the judge! Love is love!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:36pm
  64. John, I thought you were referring to the biblical definition of marriage, which included many instances of polygamy

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 4:37pm
  65. When will the taxpayers of Utah demand that their tax dollars stop being wasted on this/these appeal(s) and vote this Republican governor and his attorney general out of office?!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:19pm
  66. Let it stay. We all deserve happiness. Love is love. Love knows NO gender!!!

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 5:47pm