Utah Judge Denies Request to Stay Ruling Legalizing Gay Marriage

ShelbyJudge Robert Shelby has denied a request by the governor to stay his ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah, and gay couples will continue to marry for the time being.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

After listening to an hour of arguments regarding his controversial ruling last week allowing same-sex marriages in Utah, a federal judge on Monday denied the state’s request for a stay…

…A hearing began at 9 a.m. to hear the state’s request for a stay. Shelby retired to deliberate at about 10:20 a.m. He issued his decision at about 11:15 a.m.

Meanwhile, hundreds of same-sex couples resumed obtaining marriage licenses on Monday…

…Assist. Utah Attorney General Phill Lott argued Monday that court should impose a stay because the order 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 decision is overturned.

Watt said there was "a cloud of uncertainty over the same-sex marriages currently taking place."

Peggy Tomsic, who represents three same-sex couples in the lawsuit that challenged Amendment 3, told the judge: "Fundamentally, the state is asking you to go backwards."

Tomsic argued that the state’s reasons for asking for a stay were no different than the reasons that initially used in previous arguments. She said that if those arguments were not compelling enough to win initially, they were not compelling enough to win a stay.

"The status quo has changed," Tomsic added. "The cloud of confusion is in the minds of the state."

The Utah government is expected to appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which over the weekend denied an emergency stay of Shelby's ruling.

In related news, "Box Elder, Cache, Emery, Utah and Sanpete Counties are not issuing marriage licenses" according to FOX13 News.



  1. steven says

    I understand some county clerks (Utah County being one) are refusing to marry awaiting explanation by the governor and the AG. Technically they are in contempt of court (to Judge Shelby) as he vacated the amendment immediately. Amendment 3 NO LONGER EXISTS; therefore there is no explanation needed. More of the “Dronenburg” mentality (our clerk here in SD County) who tried similar delaying tactics after Prop 8 was vacated. I for one, will remember his name at the next election, especially since it’s on my marriage license (we married on our 24th anniversary). Additionally, there is a very narrow ruling in OHIO today further chipping away at anti-gay marriage law. All I see is steady progress of something I honestly never expected to see in my lifetime. Sometimes times do change.

  2. rroberts says

    Did the governor and his buddies seriously imagine or expect that a stay would be granted? Seriously??

    As attorney Peggy Tomsic already pointed out, “the state’s reasons for asking for a stay were no different than the reasons that [were] initially used in previous arguments. She said that if those arguments were not compelling enough to win initially, they were not compelling enough to win a stay.”

    I’m betting dollars to donuts the appeal fails miserably.

  3. MaryM says

    Utah is a massive victory considering the cancerously evil influence on that insane mor(m)on cult in that state.

    Suck it mor(m)ons – you can wear your magic underwear to grieve this evening.

  4. j justice says

    congratulations to you steven&your partner of 24 years! …and congrats to all the citizens of utah who benefit from this act of justice. (my partner & i are into our 20th year together and our dp becomes a marriage in june : )

  5. MiddleoftheRoader says

    Tenth Circuit denied a stay previously because the general rule is that appellate judges won’t grant a stay until they give the trial judge a chance to rule on the request for a stay. Once the trial judge has denied a stay, the Tenth Circuit judges can step in immediately (minutes, hours, maybe a day or two) and grant a stay. Unfortunately, that will probably happen now. So if you plan to get married in Utah soon, better do it today (or this hour).

    The situation in California with Prop 8 was very different. The California Supreme Court said same-sex marriages have to be permitted; thousands of marriages took place; it was only months later, after Prop 8 was passed, that further marriages were put on hold. The marriages that took place between the first California Supreme Court decision and the adoption of Prop 8 always remained valid because they had nothing to do with the grant or denial of a stay. They took place when the law in California was to allow same-sex marriages (after the California Supreme Court decision) and before the law changed (when Prop 8 was enacted). The Utah situation is very different.

    Bottom line: Get married IMMEDIATELY, and even then, marriages that occur now could still be thrown out later.

  6. Jerry says

    Windsor has changed the judicial landscape completely, and it’s not especially likely that the 10th Circuit will issue an immediate stay, unless the Utah AG can show how heterosexual couples are damaged & also overcome Judge Shelby’s judgement in the case. The bar is now much higher-

  7. TomR says

    I think that there are a lot of Mormons who at this very moment are down on their knees praying for a “miracle”. Sounds like Jesus is perhaps once again not listening. HA!HA!

  8. says

    The more marriages the merrier–and the better for UT couples if the 10th Circuit grants a stay. However, it’s very unlikely the existing, legal marriages would be later thrown out even if–also unlikely–the ultimate decision didn’t go our way. Voiding legal marriages would be unprecedented. (The ones that were voided in CA were because Gov. Newsom didn’t have authority to perform them.)

    Good news, fingers crossed for UT.

  9. MiddleoftheRoader says

    It should also be remembered that even if the Tenth Circuit denies a stay (I won’t think they will, but I hope I’m wrong), then Utah can ask the US Supreme Court for a stay. It would go to Justice Sotomayor, but the general practice is for the “Circuit Justice” to present it to the full US Supreme Court. And what do you think the US Supreme Court will do?

  10. Lexis says

    According to Equality On Trial website, even if the Tenth Circuit grants the stay, the loser there can appeal, with it going to the Supreme Court Justice over the Tenth, stating:

    “The next step after the appeals court would be a request from the losing party to the Circuit Justice for the Tenth Circuit, who takes up various applications related to cases in that appeals court. The Circuit Justice for the Tenth Circuit is Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She could decide to grant or deny a stay on her own, or ask the full Supreme Court to decide.”


  11. Gerry says

    @Lexis… hopefully the 10th won’t grant a stay. I don’t think SCOTUS wants at all to get involved at this point, so whichever way the circuit goes on the stay will be the last word until the 10th circuit rules on the actual case.

  12. Gerry says

    Oh good grief! Read the request from Utah for the stay to the 10th circuit… @Lexis was kind enough to post the link. It starts out like the state is hyperventalating – I am literally stunned:

    “Less than one month after the parties
    completed briefing on their cross-motions for summary judgment and barely two-weeks after the summary judgment hearing at which the district court wondered aloud whether he could issue an opinion before early January 2014, the district court issued a 50-plus page order declaring irrational the age-old definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The court then enjoined Utah from enforcing its constitution and laws adopting that definition—the only definition of marriage the State, much of the country, and even much of the world has ever used–effective immediately.

  13. simon says

    One more fact:
    Judge Shelby was appointed by our gay president. While a conservative may reach the same conclusion, but for an Obama appointee, this is almost inevitable.

  14. simon says

    The state request makes no sense. It is not about definition. It is about marriage.
    The court only concern is whether gay marriage will affect other actual marriages in the US. No one cares what the definition is in other parts of the world or the past, be it two thousand years ago or last year. It is practicality, not philosophy.

  15. says

    I was legally married in Canada after a parliamentary debate that sided with common sense and fairness to all Canadian citizens.
    The sky did not fall. God did not destroy every inch of Canada along with every first born, man, woman, beast, bird, insect and micro things that wiggle under the microscope.

    No religion or culture has the right to deprive humans basic fundamental rights as to who they love.

  16. anon says

    This is mostly legal maneuvering. There’s no particular reason that the court would issue a stay after it issued it’s ruling unless it thought the appeal would quickly go the other way. The real action is now with the appellate court.

  17. Lexis says

    @Gerry – The Tenth didn’t grant the stay, but apparently it’s being reported that the opposition will be taking it to Sotomayer on Thursday. This should be interesting.

  18. Chevytexas says

    Well don’t get too excited. He’s up for re-election in busy purple suburban Houstin-Galveston centered on League City. His neighbors are cuhrazy Rep.Steve Stockman in Friendswood and libber Sheila Jackson-Lee in Houston. He is working awfully hard on States’ Rights like so many smalltown reos in electioneering. Small hope of the House, never mind the Senate, firming up States Rights… wasn’t there a civil war fought over that?

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