Federal Appeals Court Orders Utah to Recognize Gay Marriages; State to Appeal to SCOTUS

Gay couples married in Utah may soon have their marriages recognized by the state.

State_utahThe ACLU reports:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit denied Utah's request to suspend a lower court's ruling ordering the state to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally married after a federal court struck down a state ban, but before the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted additional marriages from taking place. Over 1,000 same-sex couples married in Utah during that time period. In May, a federal court ordered the state to recognize those marriages as legally valid, but Utah had asked that the lower court's order be suspended as the appeals process continued. Today's ruling denies that request, but does give the state 10 days to decide to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The couples are represented by American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Utah, and Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC, who sought the preliminary injunction for the marriages to be recognized while their lawsuit continues. 

"It's a relief to our clients and the 1,000 other lawfully wedded same-sex couples in our state that their marriages will be recognized throughout this process," said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. "We continue to fight to ensure that these loving and committed couples get the permanent recognition they deserve."

SupremesThe Salt Lake Tribune adds that the state will appeal to Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

In a statement released by the attorney general’s office, Utah announced its intention to promptly file an application for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court "to avoid uncertainty."

"The State recognizes that pending cases regarding same-sex marriage in Utah impact the lives of many individuals and families and is diligently seeking uniform certainty through proper and orderly legal processes until Kitchen v. Herbert is resolved," the statement said, referencing Utah’s other pending same-sex marriage appeal aimed at reviving a voter-approved ban on gay and lesbian unions.


  1. pete n sfo says

    So Justice Sotomayor will hear their appeal? lol

    Good luck with that. :)

    Yes, she’s likely to overturn the obvious recent 20+ decisions so that you can continue to discriminate.

    I say, bet the house. It’ll be just fine.

  2. ben~andy says

    Justice Sonia is likely to do what she did before, refer the request for stay to the full court, or issue a stay herself.

    Remember, if she refuses, UT can simply ask ANY other Justice for the stay. At least 4 WOULD issue it, Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito. Heck, probably even Kennedy would issue it.

    When they eventually hear the cases, it would depend on what they decide. If they decide Judge Shelby’s ruling was invalid, they’d probably invalidate the marriages in UT and that would take out the 10th Circuit which would invalidate the 200 in CO as well.

    There is probably a scenario where they decide that the marriages ARE legal AND have to be recognized, but that gay marriage itself isn’t “required”, I just can’t imagine it.

    The most likely scenario, based only on Kennedy’s decision in Windsor, is that the 9th Circuit is right and we’re a suspect class and then all the rulings we’ve seen so far will be upheld and it will be wedding bells from sea to shining sea and all the overseas territories as well [Guam, Puerto Rico, VI & the Northern Mariana Islands. American Samoa is probably NOT included].

    UT’s appeal to the Supremes will be at the top of the heap, but there could easily be other Circuit Court’s decisions prior to the case actually being HEARD at SCOTUS and they could be all considered together.

    Likely timing? I’d bet on Spring term, so we’d know in a year. If we “run the table” and there’s never a Circuit Court that finds against us, the 5 could simply release the stays and deny the appeals [refuse to Grant Cert]. They’ll likely hear arguments however, since this is an over-ruling of what is traditionally a “state’s right” to decide.

    I’d rather be wrong and we’ll know by November, maybe even in time for the elections, though it would certainly energize the dumbhead base. There was a good piece in the LA Times about how disastrous a Rob Portman run for the Presidency would be for the dumbheads as he’d be offering an accepting, electable face showing how far out the fringe is. He wouldn’t be nominated [and it would be even more messy] and whoever IS nominated would be pledging to, what, overturn a SCOTUS decision? By changing the Constitution? That is HUGELY messy. We’re as likely to change Citizens United and Hobby Lobby.

    Happily Married one year on July 1st
    Hoping the same for all of you.

  3. ben~andy says

    Oh, but they aren’t likely to allow states to “cherry pick”. If they’ve recognized marriages from CA in the past, then they’ll have to recognize ALL MARRIAGES legally performed there. Ditto Canada, France, Great Britain, Denmark, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and of course the South and Central American countries. I probably forgot some….oh, yes, Portugal, Norway, Iceland, Brazil, Argentina, Luxembourg, Uruguay, and Mexico [probably ‘state by state’ like us for awhile but ALL Mexican states have to ‘recognize’ them if legally performed in DF or Quintana Roo].

    It just doesn’t make legal sense to allow a “some but not others” system. Once you are married, having your plane touch down in the mid-west can’t make you “unmarried”.

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