The Supreme Court on Monday put same-sex marriages on hold in Utah, at least while a federal appeals court more fully considers the issue.
The order grants an emergency appeal by the state following the Dec. 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates gay and lesbian couples’ constitutional rights.
More than 900 gay and lesbian couples have married since then.
The high court order will remain in effect until the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to uphold Shelby’s ruling.
The state’s request to the Supreme Court was filed with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency appeals from Utah and the five other states in the 10th Circuit. Sotomayor turned the matter over to the entire court.
The action now shifts to Denver, where the appeals court will consider arguments from the state against same-sex marriage as well as from the three gay and lesbian couples who challenged the ban in support of Shelby’s ruling. Shelby and the appeals court had previously rebuffed the state’s plea to stop gay weddings pending appeal.
The 10th Circuit has set short deadlines for both sides to file their written arguments, with the state’s first brief due on January 27. No date for argument has been set yet.
James Magleby, a lawyer for couples who sued to overturn the ban, said that while the halt to same-sex marriages is temporary – assuming the appeals court does not reverse Shelby’s ruling – it is disappointing because it leaves Utah families waiting to marry until the appeal is over.
“Every day that goes by, same-sex couples and their children are being harmed by not being able to marry and be treated equally,” Magleby said in a statement that also proclaimed confidence in his side’s case before the appellate judges.
For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world check out Boston Spirit's Fab 5
The author is solely responsible for the content.