than 900 gay couples to marry. The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to
block that injunction while litigation continues.
federal judge in Utah that has allowed hundreds of gay and lesbian
couples to immediately marry despite continuing litigation over the
state’s ban on such marriages.
The high court action means that the ban will remain in place pending
the final outcome of an appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in
The appeals court agreed to expedite the appeal, but it declined to
block the Dec. 20 decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby
invalidating all Utah laws and a constitutional amendment barring
The judge ruled that gay and lesbian couples enjoy a fundamental right
to marry and that the state ban violated rights protected under the
U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has not directly addressed
Following the decision and the appeals court’s ruling not to issue a
stay during the appeal, more than 900 couples obtained marriage
licenses and were married in Utah. The legality of those marriages may
be in doubt should Judge Shelby’s decision be overturned on appeal at
the 10th Circuit or by the Supreme Court.
The Utah governor and attorney general are seeking to uphold the
state’s ban on same-sex marriages. The ban is contained in two
statutes passed by the Legislature and by a constitutional amendment
endorsed by 66 percent of voters in a 2004 statewide ballot.
The application to block Shelby’s injunction was filed last week with
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency applications from
states within the jurisdiction of the 10th Circuit. Justice Sotomayor
had the authority to decide the issue herself, but referred it to the
entire court. The two-sentence order on Monday did not indicate how
the nine-member court voted on the issue.
“The permanent injunction issued by the United States District Court
for the District of Utah… is stayed pending final disposition of the
appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit,”
the order says.
In the next stage of the case, the Utah Attorney General’s Office will
ask the 10th Circuit to reverse Shelby’s decision. Lawyers for three
same-sex couples who brought the initial lawsuit will urge the appeals
court to uphold the lower court ruling.