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(Keith Johnson | Tribune file photo) Mark Hofeling, left, exchanges rings with new husband Jesse Walker while being married by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker outside the Salt Lake County clerk's office, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013.
Utah asks for more time to file in same-sex marriage benefits case
First Published Aug 18 2014 04:26 pm • Last Updated Aug 18 2014 10:17 pm

The Utah Attorney’s General Office has asked for an extension to file its appeal of a judge’s order that requires the state to offer spousal benefits to same-sex couple who were married in Utah last December.

According to a brief filed Monday with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, state attorneys are asking to have until Oct. 22 — a month extension from the previous Sept. 22 deadline set by the court — to file its appeal in the Evans v. Utah case.

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Attorneys are asking for the extension due to the fact that the case is "factually and legally complex" and that the attorneys on the case already have a busy workload, according to the brief.

The state notes in its brief that he plaintiffs oppose their motion for an extension.

The suit was brought by four couples who were married in the immediate aftermath of the historic Dec. 20 decision by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby that overturned Utah’s voter-approved ban on same-sex unions.

After the U.S. Supreme court halted all same-sex weddings to allow Utah an opportunity to appeal the case, the state refused to extend spousal benefits to those gay and lesbian Utahns who had married, saying the stay ensured the state could continue to operate under its previously established "status quo."

But U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball disagreed. He ordered Utah in May to extend the same in-state benefits to those gay and lesbian couples married in Utah as their opposite-sex counterparts receive.

The couples have yet to receive those rights, as any movement was again halted by the U.S. Supreme Court last month, pending the outcome of the state’s appeal. Until the appeal is resolved, more than 1,200 same-sex marriages have been placed on hold.

Meanwhile, Utah also continues to defend its right define marriage as a union between one man and one woman in the separate Kitchen v. Herbert case.

Earlier this month, the state asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case in an attempt to revive a same-sex marriage ban. Virginia and Oklahoma have also filed similar petitions, with other states expected to also ask to have their cases heard when the nine justices reconvene in October.

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Twitter: @jm_miller

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