SALT LAKE CITY — Gay couples in Utah celebrated and sought marriage licenses Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for them to marry there and in 30 other states by rejecting an appeal that sought to ban same-sex unions.
The denial of the appeal by Utah and four other states left no pending gay marriage cases before the high court.
Hours after the justices’ decision, the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its stay on Utah and Oklahoma gay marriage cases, opening the door for same-sex weddings there.
In Salt Lake City, the three gay couples who filed the lawsuit challenging Utah’s ban exchanged kisses and cried at a news conference Monday.
“If there’s a downside, it’s only that this doesn’t apply nationwide immediately,” plaintiff Kate Call said. She predicted gay marriage bans in other states would “fall like dominos.”
Kody Partridge, another plaintiff in the case, called it a “day of celebration and victory for all of Utah.”
Partridge and Laurie Wood married in December during a brief window when gay couples were able to wed in Utah. Soon after, the weddings were halted and the state wouldn’t recognize the marriages.
Wood said Monday she is glad to know their union is on solid legal ground.
Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, said he was surprised and disappointed that the Supreme Court declined to hear Utah’s case.
Speaking to reporters at the State Capitol, Herbert said he accepted the court’s decision and directed all state agencies to begin recognizing same-sex marriages.
“While I continue to believe the states do have a right to define marriage and create laws regarding marriage, ultimately we are a nation of laws, and we here in Utah will uphold the law,” Herbert said.
Republican Attorney General Sean Reyes, who appeared with Herbert, said he directed county attorneys and clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Monday.