Utah lawyers seek higher court to stop gay marriage

Posted Dec 24, 2013 by Scott Tuttle
U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby shook the world by declaring Utah's gay marriage ban unconstitutional last Friday. On Monday, he denied the state of Utah's request to temporarily suspend his ruling as the appeals process plays out.
Natalie Dicou (L) and her partner Nicole Christensen  and James Goodman (2nd R) and his partner Jeff...
Natalie Dicou (L) and her partner Nicole Christensen, and James Goodman (2nd R) and his partner Jeffrey Gomez (R), wait to get married at the Salt Lake County Clerks office in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 20, 2013
With permission by Reuters /
Since Judge Shelby's Friday ruling, more than 700 gay couples have rushed to get marriage licenses knowing that their window of opportunity might be limited. Utah state lawyers have tried desperately to halt the process by requesting an emergency stay before the 10th Circuit Court in Denver of which the same Judge Shelby presided.
This latest request, which was the third of its kind filed since Friday, was for an emergency suspension on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Utah until the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling for or against Friday's decision.
As the appeals process will require scheduling for both sides of the argument to file briefs and further scheduling for oral arguments, the process is expected to take several weeks.
Judge Shelby heard the case for an emergency stay from 9 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. on Monday, then delivered a decision at 11:15 a.m. He ruled that the state had only tried to regurgitate arguments that he had previously thrown out, thus opted to uphold his Friday ruling. Shortly thereafter, same-sex marriages resumed course.
"It’s not surprising to me. It’s disappointing, but not surprising," said Utah Governor Gary Herbert. "There’s a lot of issues there, so a stay would be appropriate until we finally have resolution. So I’m disappointed, but not surprised."
State lawyers have meanwhile made their way to the appeals court, trying to stop same-sex marriages as soon as possible. "Until the final word has been spoken by this Court or the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Utah's marriage laws, Utah should not be required to enforce Judge Shelby's view of a new and fundamentally different definition of marriage," said a state attorney before the appeals court.
As of Friday's ruling, Utah became the 18th state in the U.S. allowing same-sex weddings. Whether or not it will retain this status is now in the hands of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.