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Supreme Court Grants Utah Request for Stay of Gay Marriage Recognition

Utah will not have to recognize the marriages of approximately 1,000 gay couples who married after a federal judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage while the case is appealed, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

SupremesThe NYT reports:

The court’s order was two sentences long and said only that a lower court’s ruling “is stayed pending the final disposition of the appeal” by the federal appeals court in Denver.

The marriages took place between Dec. 20, when Judge Robert J. Shelby of Federal District Court in Salt Lake City struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, and Jan. 6, when the Supreme Court issued a stay blocking that ruling while the decision was appealed.

Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, released a statement:

"We are deeply disappointed by the decision to grant a stay pending appeal, but despite this setback, we are confident that when the appellate process is completed we will prevail and these lawfully married same-sex couples will once again be given the same legal protections as ever other legally married Utah couple."


Connecticut Ruling Could Lead To Retroactive Marriage Rights For Same-Sex Couples

A July 16th Connecticut Supreme Court ruling is adding to the debate on whether same-sex marriage rights should be applied retroactively, reports ABC News.

Charlotte Stacey and Margaret MullerThe case involved Margaret Mueller and Charlotte Stacey, who had a civil union in Connecticut in 2005 and got married in Massachusetts in 2008 after 23 years together, shortly before Connecticut approved gay marriage.

Mueller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001 but the couple learned in 2005 that the diagnosis was wrong and Mueller actually had appendix cancer. Stacey said her wife’s death could have been prevented if the original diagnosis had been correct.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Stacey may sue for medical malpractice over the loss of her wife's companionship and income, even though that right was limited to heterosexual married couples at the time of their marriage.

Lower courts had ruled that Stacey could not sue because only married couples had that right and Stacey and Mueller did not marry until 2008.

Although no states that allow same-sex marriage have made their laws retroactive, many believe that inheritance laws and other benefits that had been available only to heterosexual married couples should be extended to same-sex partners.

While the Connecticut court did not make its 2008 same-sex marriage ruling retroactive, it expanded common law to give gay people the right to sue over the death of a partner.

Speaking to Associated Press, Ben Klein, a lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston, said:

"Because there was a time when many same-sex couples couldn't marry, they were subjected to a whole range of unfair treatment under the law and this decision is really a great step forward. We have these remnants from the past that the court, at least in this one instance, has rectified."

However, some groups that oppose same-sex marriage are also against making marriage rights retroactive.  Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, said "Connecticut has no obligation to pay reparations to homosexuals for having maintained the natural definition of marriage until 2008."

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Gay marriage bans that have been overturned in states including Utah continue to make their way through the courts.


Utah Files Emergency SCOTUS Request Over Gay Marriage Recognition

Utah has filed an emergency request with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor asking her for a stay of the order forcing Utah to recognize nearly 1200 gay marriages performed there, FOX13Now's Ben Winslow reports:

SotomayorIn the filing, special assistant attorney general Gene Schaerr refers to the marriages as “interim marriages” and writes that the nation’s top court is likely to take the Amendment 3 case and rule in Utah’s favor.

“Utah believes it is highly likely — and certainly likely enough to warrant a stay — that at least four Justices will vote to grant certiorari if the district court’s decision is affirmed, and that at least five Justices will agree with Judge Kelly that the district court’s sweeping legal conclusions ‘simply cannot be’ — and emphatically are not — ‘the law.’ Indeed, the district court’s misunderstanding of the legal status of a law subject to a non-final decision of unconstitutionality is so fundamentally erroneous, and arises in a context of such importance to all of the states and to this Court, that a summary reversal could well be in order,” he wrote.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Urah to recognize the marriages last Friday, and the state said it planned to appeal to Sotomayor.

Read the brief below:

Application for SCOTUS Stay Final (w Addenda) (1) by Ben Winslow


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.


Utah Attorney General to Appeal Gay Marriage Ruling Directly to U.S. Supreme Court

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes won't ask for an en banc (all the justices rather than a three-judge panel) Tenth Circuit appeal of the Kitchen v. Herbert ruling striking down Utah's gay marriage ban. He plans to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

ReyesThe AG's statement, via Fox 13 Salt Lake City:

“To obtain clarity and resolution from the highest court, the Utah Attorney General’s Office will not seek en banc review of the Kitchen v. Herbert Tenth Circuit decision, but will file a Petition for Writ of Certioari to the United States Supreme Court in the coming weeks. Attorney General Reyes has a sworn duty to defend the laws of our state.  Utah’s Constitutional Amendment 3 is presumed to be constitutional unless the highest court deems otherwise.”

Writes Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog:

This will be the first case reaching the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of such state bans since the Justices in United States v. Windsor a year ago struck down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act — a ruling that set off a series of decisions by federal and state trial courts, all of which so far have nullified state bans on same-sex marriages.  The Tenth Circuit was the first federal appeals court to issue such a decision...

...With the case going to the Justices via such a petition, the Court will have complete discretion whether to review the Tenth Circuit ruling, or pass it up.  Utah officials are almost certain to argue that the Court should take up the issue promptly based on the argument that there is now a conflict among federal appeals courts on the constitutionality of such bans.

...The Supreme Court has seen the Utah same-sex marriage issue before.  In January, the Justices issued an order temporarily blocking a federal trial judge’s ruling against the state ban, pending review of the case by the Tenth Circuit.  That review then went forward, with the three-judge panel splitting two to one on June 25 in finding the ban unconstitutional.

The panel, however, has put its decision on hold, and said it would remain suspended until the state had a chance to take the case to the Supreme Court.  Wednesday was the final deadline for Utah to ask the Tenth Circuit to rehear the case en banc, and the state has now chosen not to do that.


Kentucky Gay Marriage Plaintiff Timothy Love Discusses Heyburn Ruling: VIDEO

Timothy love

In a July 3rd ruling, Judge John G. Heyburn struck down Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage.  

The news came with the announcement last week that Highland Baptist Church in Kentucky plans to marry David Bannister and Steven Carr in May 2015.

Although Heyburn ruled that "long-held religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted," he stayed the ruling until the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides same-sex marriage cases from Kentucky and three other states, including the June 25 striking down of Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in Utah which ruled broadly in favor of marriage equality.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has hired an out-of-state law firm to handle the appeal after Attorney General Jack Conway declined to appeal the ruling.  According to USA Today, Beshear's arguments are "not those of serious people."

Beshear's lawyers will make their arguments to reverse Heyburn's ruling on August 6.

Read Ari Ezra Waldman’s review of Heyburn’s ruling and watch lead plaintiff Timothy Love discuss the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Kentucky Gay Marriage Plaintiff Timothy Love Discusses Heyburn Ruling: VIDEO" »


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