Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. Supreme Court granted Utah’s request for a stay on same-sex marriage on Monday effectively holding up gay unions in the state.
The Supreme Court decision will last until the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver decides on the state’s request for a stay on same-sex marriage. The appeals court had rejected the state’s stay request three times. The stay application was prompted by the circuit and a district court’s ruling that Utah’s ban on gay union is unconstitutional.
With the stay, clerk offices in Utah can no longer issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As to those who had obtained marriage licenses before the Supreme Court ruling, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said they are now in an unfortunate legal limbo. Reyes said the state is evaluating the implications of such marriages, which were legally unprecedented.
“Clearly, the stay should have been granted with the original District Court decision in order to have avoided the uncertainty created by this unprecedented change,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement, according to Salt Lake Tribune. “As I have said all along, all Utahns deserve to have this issue resolved through a fair and complete judicial process.”
Utah applied for a stay before the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 31 after lower courts rejected the same applications. The state argued on Monday that states should be allowed to define marriage and should not be forced to license, perform and recognize such marriages while the U.S. Constitution is not clear in recognizing same-sex marriage.
The plaintiffs, three same-sex couples, argued on Friday that a stay will perpetuate harm to same-sex couples.
On Dec. 20, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby reversed an amendment in Utah’s constitution banning same-sex marriage. It also rejected a subsequent request by the state to stay his decision while it appeals the same before the circuit court.