U.S. Supreme Court

Same-sex marriages in Utah don't have to be recognized pending appeal because of SCOTUS stay

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The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on Friday that allows the state of Utah to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages while the state appeals a federal appeals court ruling striking down the state’s ban on such marriages.

The order applies to so-called “interim marriages” entered into after a federal judge struck down the ban on Dec. 20 and the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the decision pending appeal on Jan. 6, report the New York Times, the Salt Lake Tribune and SCOTUSblog. The new stay (PDF) was issued in a case on the status of those marriages.

The Times says the status of about 1,000 same-sex marriages are at issue, while SCOTUSblog says there are about 1,300 such marriages.

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on June 25 that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The interim marriage case is pending before the 10th Circuit. Utah has announced it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the 10th Circuit’s June ruling.

The Times highlighted arguments in the interim-marriage case. The state wrote in its brief seeking the latest Supreme Court stay: “Constitutional rights do not spring into existence by mass social activity triggered by the unreviewed decision of a single district court judge.”

The American Civil Liberties Union supported recognition of the marriages. “There is no such thing as an ‘interim marriage,’  ” its brief said. “In seeking to nullify marriages that were legal at the time they were solemnized, defendants seek to do something unprecedented in our nation’s history.”

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