U.S. appeals court sides with gay marriage proponents in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY Sat Jul 12, 2014 1:33am EDT

Lynn Herre (L) and her partner Jana Mark watch the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 8, 2014.  REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Lynn Herre (L) and her partner Jana Mark watch the Utah Pride Parade in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 8, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday denied Utah's bid to further block legal recognition of about 1,300 same-sex weddings performed after the state's gay marriage ban was briefly lifted by a federal judge in December.

But the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also left intact an existing temporary stay against a ruling requiring Utah to recognize the legitimacy of those marriages, giving the state time to seek a lengthier injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes immediately vowed to do that in the next few days.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby in Salt Lake City ruled in December that a voter-passed law restricting marriage to heterosexual couples only was unconstitutional, clearing the way for same-sex couples in the socially conservative and heavily Mormon state to wed.

But the Supreme Court in Washington reinstated the gay marriage ban just 17 days later, issuing a stay of Shelby's ruling that halted further gay and lesbian nuptials until Utah's appeal of that decision had run its course.

Utah refused to confer legal recognition of gay and lesbian marriages performed in the interim, leaving those couples unable to proceed with adoptions, obtain spousal health insurance benefits or legally change their names.

Four newlywed same-sex couples then filed a separate lawsuit to get the state to recognize their marital status, winning a decision in May from another federal judge that their marriages were valid. But that judge also temporarily stayed his own ruling to let Utah petition for a lengthier injunction pending appeal.

The 10th Circuit on Friday denied that request for a permanent injunction.

Utah argued that legal recognition for newly married same-sex couples before the final outcome of the underlying legal battle over gay marriage would cause greater confusion.

Were the state to prevail, Utah officials said, gay and lesbian marriages performed last winter would be invalidated, stripping away the benefits conferred on them.

But the 10th Circuit said Utah failed to show irreparable harm would result from letting already married gay couples obtain spousal benefits.

The same three-judge panel in June upheld Shelby's decision. It marked the first time a federal appeals court had ruled on the merits of such a case since the Supreme Court decided a year ago that legally married same-sex couples nationwide were eligible for federal benefits.

Reyes said on Thursday he would appeal Shelby's ruling to the Supreme Court rather than seek reconsideration from the full 10th Circuit.

There are now 19 states, plus the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal. In another nine states, including Utah, federal judges have struck down bans on same-sex marriage but the rulings have been put on hold pending appeal.

(Reporting by Jennifer Dobner in Salt Lake City; Editing by Steve Gorman, Sandra Maler and Ken Wills)

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Comments (5)
REnninga wrote:
It seems clear that the time has come, for the Supreme Court of the United States to take a state same gender marriage ban challenge appeal, and finally put an end to all of this wasted investment of State Courts and District Courts time, litigants and appellants money, and divisive socio-political shouting and hand-wringing. This is just a strait-forward question of equal rights and equal protections.

The Courts decision ruling against the “Defense Of Marriage Act” (aka: DOMA) seems strong enough suggestion that the Court is ready to decide that the equal protections clause of the 14th Amendment invalidates the various state bans on same gender marriage.

And this seems one case that the Court will most likely be able to decide with a 9-0 ruling; after all the 14th Amendment doesn’t require interpretation. It’s plainly worded and as clear as raindrops.

So let’s just get it over with, already! In a few years the present hysteria and furor over other peoples personal and private choices of whom they love and wish to bond with in civil marriage, will begin to ebb. Many of those now opposed, will begin to modify their views and come to realize that their own personal values system, religious beliefs and judgments, … should never be allowed, in America, to abridge the equal rights and protections of others, simply because they deem others to be undeserving of those “rights”.

Jul 11, 2014 10:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
matthewslyman wrote:
@REnninga: Do homosexual unions produce natural biological children?

One question. One simple answer. One word: NO. But I’ve never had a single proponent of “gay marriage” answer that question. They won’t, because they know it undermines their cause! The social reason for marriage? The social function? Protect children, create stability, protect society from the externalities of broken homes and realise/incentivize the benefits of stable relationships. Homosexual “marriage” doesn’t confer the same externalities, so it shouldn’t enjoy the same benefits or incentives! Very simple. But how are the proponents so blind as to not to see this, or so impudent as to pretend not to see these obvious facts? Enough already — to the Supreme Court.

Jul 12, 2014 2:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
matthewslyman wrote:
The answer? CIVIL UNIONS. Gay “marriage” might have some benefits to society, but those are not the same as the effects of heterosexual marriage. You want to have a union, of a fundamentally different sort to real marriage? Call it something else, and stop demanding that other people pay you the same in tax advantages etc., for the privilege of having a union that doesn’t confer the same benefits on those other people! Fair is fair. Shouting and vandalism doesn’t constitute reason. Enough already! Time to stop the cultural vandalism, and the parade of sheer vanity!

Jul 12, 2014 2:06am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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