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Supreme Court halts Utah gay marriages pending appeal

Utah attorney general says the Monday ruling puts married same-sex couples in “legal limbo.”

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In its filing Monday, the state said the respondents did not dispute that the Utah lawsuit squarely addresses the question left open in Windsor. Neither do they dispute the Supreme Court is "highly likely" to hear the case if the 10th Circuit affirms Shelby’s decision, the state said.

Utah also said the respondents failed to address the state’s "common-sense" argument, based on sociological studies, that children do better when parented by a mother and father and that permitting only opposite-sex unions increases the likelihood children will be raised in such families.

At a glance

Utah reactions

The following is a sampling of reactions to Monday’s order from the U.S. Supreme Court granting Utah’s request for a stay of the Dec. 20 decision by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby that found the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional:

“Utah’s Office of the Attorney General is carefully evaluating the legal status of the marriages that were performed since the District Court’s decision and will not rush to a decision that impacts Utah citizens so profoundly.” — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes

“While it is disappointing that the dreams of many more will be put on hold, we know that in the end justice will be served and no couple will be excluded from this cherished institution.” — Chad Griffin, president, Human Rights Campaign

“It was surprising that the 10th Circuit did not grant a stay and disappointing that the district court did not either. When courts are making such dramatic decisions, judicial propriety requires that they take it a step at a time rather than galloping ahead like in a horse race. So the Supreme Court decision is quite unremarkable. The Supreme Court merely said no, we’re going to do this in the ordinary way and not rush to judgment.” — Lynn D. Wardle, a law professor at Brigham Young University who helped craft Utah’s Amendment 3

“These are couples who love each other, and many of them are raising children together. Now that the stay has been granted, they have to worry about whether the marriage that they lawfully entered will be recognized by the courts.” — Cliff Rosky, University of Utah law professor and Equality Utah chairman

“Every day that goes by, same-sex couples and their children are being harmed by not being able to marry and be treated equally.” — James E. Magleby, attorney for three same-sex couples who challenged Amendment 3

“Everyone in America should be concerned to see how easily activist judges can cavalierly toss out the will of overwhelming majorities of legislators and voters alike. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the people of America need to reclaim their sovereignty and amend the U.S. Constitution to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” — Brian Brown, president of The National Organization for Marriage

“Despite today’s decision, we are hopeful that the lower court’s well-reasoned decision will be upheld in the end, and that courts across the country will continue to recognize that all couples should have the freedom to marry.” — Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU of Utah’s LGBT project

“We are grateful that the Supreme Court [justices] did understand that this was an inappropriate and a jump-the-gun [decision] by an activist judge, in this instance. For the state of Utah this is a broader issue. State sovereignty is the issue overall. — Cherilyn Eagar, a former congressional candidate and conservative blogger

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That provides "at least a rational basis for and, indeed, a compelling interest in the Utah laws that the district court wrongly enjoined," the state said.

And every same-sex marriage that occurs in Utah as a result of Shelby’s "unlawful injunction" undermines the right of a state and its people to define marriage in the way they believe will best further the public welfare, it said.

Allowing such marriages to continue "irreparably injures the state, by interfering with its enforcement of its own laws," the state said.

Meanwhile, the respondents failed to identify any "concrete" harm to themselves or other same-sex couples that would occur if a stay is granted, Utah said.


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