The U.S. Supreme Court has issued an emergency stay after Gov. Gary Herbert requested the action and said states that refuse to defend their states’ bans on same-sex marriage are shirking their duty and courting anarchy.
A U.S. district court in May issued an order requiring Utah to recognize the marriages of more than 1,000 same-sex couples who wed in the brief window after the ban was initially struck down in December and and when the Supreme Court halted the marriages in January. A federal appeals court upheld that order a week ago but gave the state time to ask the Supreme Court to intervene. Today, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the federal circuit that includes Utah, granted a stay of the order. The stay "will be in effect until the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the state’s claim that those marriages did not have full legal status when performed," SCOTUSblog reports.
"The dispute over these marriages is separate from, but is related to, the controversy over the constitutionality of Utah’s ban on all such marriages," SCOTUSblog continues. "The ban has been struck down by a different federal judge, and Utah is planning to take that case to the Supreme Court in coming weeks." A federal appeals court in June agreed with the original ruling striking down the ban.
The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the couples in the case, issued a statement expressing disappointment with today's decision but optimism about the ultimate outcome. "We are deeply disappointed by the decision to grant a stay pending appeal, but despite this setback, we are confident that when the appellate process is completed we will prevail and these lawfully married same-sex couples will once again be given the same legal protections as ever other legally married Utah couple," said Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project.