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Same-sex couples married in Utah may have rights in 10 days

If the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t intervene, married couples may apply for benefits in 10 days.

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Judge Paul J. Kelly, who wrote a dissent that took issue with the characterization of marriage as a "fundamental right," issued another dissent Friday, in which he argued allowing same-sex couples to apply for spousal benefits would add to "the chaos begun by the district court in Kitchen."

Kelly wrote there would be multiple types of harm done to Utah should gay and lesbian spouses begin to apply for in-state benefits before the appeal had been settled.

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"In denying a stay pending appeal, this court is running roughshod over state laws which are currently in force. It is disingenuous to contend that the state will suffer no harm if the matter is not stayed; undoing what is about to be done will be labyrinthine and has the very real possibility to moot important issues that deserve serious consideration," he wrote. "A stay would simply maintain the status quo until this case ... comes to a resolution via the normal legal process."

If the country’s high court does not act to impose a stay in the Evans v. Utah lawsuit come 8 a.m. on July 21, gay and lesbian couples married in Utah may begin to apply for in-state benefits, which includes the right to adopt.

More than 1,000 couples married in Utah during a 17-day window when such unions were legal following U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s landmark ruling on Dec. 20. The weddings stopped when the U.S. Supreme Court intervened and issued a stay in that case, halting any further same-sex marriages.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals had denied Utah a stay in that case, too, before ruling against the state five months later.

Utah has announced its intent to appeal that case to the U.S. Supreme Court, making it the first challenge of a state ban on same-sex marriage to come before the nation’s nine justices.


Twitter: @Marissa_Jae

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