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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" »


Kentucky Baptist Church To Perform Same-Sex Marriage Next Year - VIDEO

Highland baptist church kentucky

In a break with most of the church’s denominations, Highland Baptist Church in Kentucky announced it will marry couple David Bannister and Steven Carr next May.

Highland, which will become the third Baptist church in the area to perform same-sex weddings, is considered to be at the more liberal end of the congregation’s spectrum. In 2012, Highland ordained openly gay Minister Maurice Blanchard.

The news comes following a wave of recent pro-equality judicial decisions, including the June 25 decision in Indiana that struck down that state's marriage ban, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in Utah which ruled broadly in favor of marriage equality, and a July 1 decision that found Kentucky has no constitutional right to ban same-sex couples from marrying.

Although U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled in the Kentucky decision 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, according to The Courier-Journal.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has hired a law firm to handle the appeal after Attorney General Jack Conway declined to appeal the ruling. 

Speaking to The Courier Journal, Pastor Joe Phelps said that the decision to perform the marriage has upset some members of the congregation, who have nonetheless taken the decision to stay with the church.

Sam Marcosson, a law professor at the University of Louisville, said:

"What Highland is really doing is what churches do on important issues. They're taking a stand in order to influence their community and move their community in a certain direction."

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

Watch a report on Heyburn's decision to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Kentucky Baptist Church To Perform Same-Sex Marriage Next Year - VIDEO" »


Hate Group World Conference Of Families To Hold 2015 Convention In Salt Lake City

World congress of families

Anti-gay hate group The World Congress Of Families (WCF) intends to bring its annual convention to Salt Lake City in 2015.

The Illinois-based coalition of hate groups, which opposes homosexuality and abortion, claims to affirm and defend “the natural family as the fundamental unit of civilizations, thus renewing a stable and free society.  [The organization] is a practical effort to lead the international pro-family movement and build greater understanding and encourage new networks and initiatives among natural family advocates at the national and international levels.”

Last year, the WCF reserved a meeting room at the Dirksen Senate Office building, until it was shut down by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL). However the meeting, billed as a discussion of “what can our pro-family legislators learn — positively and negatively — by studying our colleagues’ actions abroad," was later rescheduled at a House office building thanks to Speaker John Boehner.

According to The Sacramento Bee, the WCF coalition, which includes Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America, aims to bring together “people of different religions and ethnicities to promote the "natural human family.” The coalition describes the “natural human family” as one man and one woman raising children with love and discipline.

Conservative Utah-based think tank The Sutherland Institute put in the bid and is leading the event planning, according to WCF vice president and managing director Larry Jacobs.

Speaking to The Sacramento Bee, Ty Cobb, director of global engagement for The Human Rights Campaign, said:

"Whatever the World Congress of Families may believe in their head about the values of people of Salt Lake City, they are wrong. The values of the people of Salt Lake City are ones that promote inclusivity."

Utah has been a focal point in the fight for same-sex marriage in recent weeks, following the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to strike down the state's gay marriage ban.


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