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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 18 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 29
Utah marriages are valid, Tenth Circuit says
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Utah marriages are valid, Tenth Circuit says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on July 11 that marriages performed in Utah before a stay was issued in that state's marriage case are valid and must be recognized by the state.

The two-judge majority said simply that state officials 'have not made showings sufficient to warrant a stay pending appeal.' They noted that one of the things state officials would have had to show was that they were likely to win their appeal, implying that the panel's majority doubts the state will win.

The judges gave Utah officials until July 21 to file an appeal of their latest decision.

Federal District Judge Robert Shelby ruled on December 20 that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. That decision was stayed by order of the U.S. Supreme Court on January 6, but in the meantime some 1,300 same-sex couples were married.

Although Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes said the state would not recognize the marriages, Federal District Judge Robert Kimball ruled on May 19 that Utah had to recognize them.

On June 25 the Tenth Circuit upheld Shelby's decision in the original case, and this latest ruling on July 11 upholds Kimball's decision.

It also refutes Reyes' legal theory in the case, namely that Utah's marriage ban is still valid unless and until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the case.

Reyes has already asked the Supreme Court to review Shelby's ruling and the Tenth Circuit decision upholding it, and he is expected to ask the high court to consider this Tenth Circuit ruling as well.

The Supreme Court is under no obligation whatsoever to hear Reyes' appeal, and if they decline to hear it, the Tenth Circuit's ruling will stand.

Freedom To Marry said they hoped the Supreme Court would agree to hear the case.

'The Supreme Court should take this case and swiftly move to end marriage discrimination across the country,' the group said. 'Every day of delay is a day of hardship for couples and their loved ones wrongly denied the freedom to marry and respect for their families. The American people support the freedom to marry, but the law still discriminates for too many American couples in too many states.'

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which joined the plaintiffs' legal team in January, did not say whether they wanted a Supreme Court hearing, but they hoped the case would be resolved quickly.

'We want this case to move forward to a final resolution as quickly as possible,' NCLR said.

'Every day, loving and committed same-sex couples and their families in Utah are being harmed by the continued enforcement of measures that deny them equal dignity, security and protection - even though both the federal district court and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals have held they violate fundamental constitutional guarantees.'

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