The Supreme Court of the United States issued a stay in favor of the State of Utah today, putting a hold on same-sex marriage and sending nearly a thousand same-sex couples into limbo.
At a press conference this morning in Salt Lake City, interim Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes indicated this move puts Utah’s Amendment 3 (which allows for legal marriage between one man and one woman only) back in force. At the same press conference, he acknowledged he did not know how this affects the legal rights of the same-sex couples that married in the state since Federal District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby and the Tenth Circuit overturned Utah law in late December.
The decision whether or not to grant the stay was in the hands of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who decided to turn to the entire Supreme Court who granted the stay. No dissenting opinion was given.
Reaction to the ruling has been mixed. Utah Governor Gary Herbert issued a statement saying the Court made the “correct” decision. He said, “As I have said all along, all Utahns deserve to have this issue resolved through a fair and complete judicial process. I firmly believe this is a state-rights issue and I will work to defend the position of the people of Utah and our State Constitution.”
Joshua Block, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement that said, “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.“
Today’s decision is far from the end of a legal battle that the Supreme Court, the State of Utah and those fighting Amendment 3 want to fast track. It is possible the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals could hear the case as early as March.
Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.
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Source: Washington Post, CNN, FOX13 News, Governor Gary Herbert, Utah Attorney General’s Office