Federal Appeals Court Won't Stop Utah Marriages

But the federal judge who issued the initial ruling will hear the state's argument against marriage equality in court on Monday.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

December 22 2013 9:13 PM ET UPDATED: December 23 2013 12:27 PM ET

Michael Adam Ferguson and J. Seth Anderson were among the first same-sex couples to receive a marriage license after Friday's ruling. Photo via Facebook.

UPDATE, 12/23: The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals again denied Utah's emergency request for a temporary stay in the case to establish legal marriage equality. However, the district court judge who ruled in favor of same-sex couples on Friday is still hearing arguments regarding whether to issue a stay on Monday morning.

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Two federal judges on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied an emergency request from Utah state officials who had asked the court to halt the same-sex marriages taking place since a state judge struck down Utah's marriage ban on Friday.

Sunday's ruling means that more same-sex couples are expected to apply for marriage licenses in the select counties that have begun granting such licenses since Friday, reports BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner.

Immediately following Friday's ruling, the office of Utah's attorney general filed an emergency petition with the federal district judge who issued the ruling, asking for a stay on Judge Robert J. Shelby's order instating marriage equality in the state immediately. When Shelby informed acting attorney general Brian Tarbet that he would not hear the state's case until Monday, state officials turned to the federal appeals court for, essentially, a stay on the judge's decision not to stay his ruling. 

But a two-judge panel on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the attorney general's request Sunday, essentially arguing that the state had not satisfied the legal requirements to formally request a stay pending appeal, according to BuzzFeed.

Utah's attorney general's office contends that because the state planned to appeal Friday's ruling, the marriages that were occurring in several Utah counties "may be void" if the decision is ultimately reversed. Judge Shelby is expected to hear those arguments — as well as the response of the plaintiffs who successfully sued for marriage equality — in district court on Monday morning. 

"The State Defendants’ [sic] trivialize Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights when they argue that a stay ‘at most’ would lead to a delay in their ability to exercise those rights,” the lawyers for the couples wrote, according to BuzzFeed. "Not only do the State Defendants ignore that every day a citizen is deprived of constitutional rights causes irreparable harm, but they ignore their own admission of the actual harm Plaintiffs have suffered."

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