The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday denied Utah's bid
to further block legal recognition of about 1,300 gay weddings
performed after the state's gay marriage ban was briefly lifted by a
federal judge in December.
The move by Utah to appeal to the Supreme Court for a stay had been
widely expected since the 10th Circuit left intact an existing
temporary stay in order to give the state time to seek a lengthier
injunction from a higher court.
A decision on the request lies with Justice Sonia Sotomayor. If she
fails to issue a stay, state attorneys say Utah will ask the full
Supreme Court to consider the issue.
If no stay is granted, then same-sex couples who married during the
brief window when such unions were legal would be eligible for
spousal benefits and rights beginning on July 21.In his filing, Utah
Attorney General Sean Reyes said the federal judge who struck down
the ban last year had erred, and that the highest court in the land
should have its say.
"This (Supreme) Court will soon have the final, dispositive word on
the important issue of who gets to decide how to define marriage:
the people of a state participating in the democratic process, or
the federal courts," Reyes wrote.
In December, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby in Salt Lake City
struck down a constitutional amendment passed by voters that
restricted marriage to heterosexual couples, clearing the way for
same-sex couples to wed in the socially conservative and heavily
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But the Supreme Court in Washington reinstated the gay marriage ban
just 17 days later, issuing a stay of Shelby's ruling that halted
further gay and lesbian nuptials until Utah's appeal of that
decision had run its course.
Utah refused to confer legal recognition of gay and lesbian
marriages performed in the interim, leaving those couples unable to
proceed with adoptions, obtain spousal health insurance benefits or
legally change their names.
There are now 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, where
same-sex marriage is legal. In another nine states, including Utah,
federal judges have struck down bans on same-sex marriage but the
rulings have been put on hold pending appeal.
(Reporting by Jennifer Dobner; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by
Eric Walsh and Nick Macfie)
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