January 6th, 2014
10:38 AM ET
8 months ago

Supreme Court puts hold on same-sex marriages in Utah

Updated 4:37 p.m. ET, 1/6/2014

(CNN) – The Supreme Court on Monday temporarily blocked same-sex marriage in Utah, an apparently unanimous order in favor of the state that sends the matter back to an appeals court for expedited consideration.

The case could have sweeping national implications, depending on how the federal appeals panel rules on a challenge to the state's same-sex marriage ban and whether the case returns to the high court.

Utah asked the Supreme Court to intervene last week after 10th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to stay a lower court ruling in December striking down Utah's voter-approved prohibition of legal wedlock for gays and lesbians.

Hundreds of people sought marriage licenses following U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby's ruling that said the restriction, approved in 2004, conflicted with the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor received the Utah petition and then asked her colleagues to weigh in.

The court followed up with a two-sentence order without comment that puts same-sex marriages on hold in Utah only.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said the Supreme Court made the "correct" decision to stay Shelby's ruling.

"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," he said in a statement.

One question arising from the Supreme Court ruling is the status of those who received marriage licenses after Shelby's ruling. The Utah Attorney General's office put the figure at around 950, but it was not clear how many people actually wed.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes gave no indication on Monday whether the state would try to challenge the validity of those unions.

"There is not clear legal precedence for this particular situation. This is the uncertainty that we were trying to avoid by asking the district court for a stay immediately after its decision. It is very unfortunate that so many Utah citizens have been put into this legal limbo," Reyes said in a statement.

The appeals panel in Denver is expected to consider the case again in coming weeks more thoroughly. A ruling there could affect all states within the court's jurisdiction: Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

More recently, same-sex marriage legal battles have become prominent in states where it is prohibited. But the Utah case is a broad challenge that goes to the heart of constitutional law as it applies to the state ban and could wind up back at the Supreme Court. Same-sex couples say laws like Utah's violate their equal protection and due process rights.

"It could be the challenge that a lot of people have been waiting for, which is does the United States Constitution guarantee a right to marriage for everyone," said CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin. "That's the issue in this case and it's now working its way through the courts. It could take quite some time."

The Supreme Court ruled more narrowly this past summer on separate issues involving same-sex marriage.

It cleared the way for those unions in California to resume and rejected parts of a federal law, concluding same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.

Most states still ban the practice, but polls show more support for it publicly.

Same-sex advocates look to Shelby's arguments to sway the appeals panel.

"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," Joshua Block, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

The lawsuit considered by Shelby was brought by one gay and two lesbian couples in Utah who wish to marry but have been unable to do so because of the state ban.

Same-sex marriage is banned by constitutional amendment or state law in: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

It is legal in 17 other U.S states and the District of Columbia: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The case is Herbert v. Kitchen (13A687)


Filed under: Same-sex marriage • Supreme Court • Utah
soundoff (569 Responses)
  1. Jackson

    Mike in SS

    Take out the word "marriage", make everything a civil union for local, county, state, federal level, and leave the "marriages" where they should be, with the church of your choice.

    ___________

    One huge legal problem with that thought. Unless there is a church somewhere in this country that can show that they legally hold either the copyright to marriage, the patent on marriage, or the trademark of the word marriage, they don't have a legal leg to stand on.

    It really is just that simple.

    January 6, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Shane

    Yet Utah still turn a 'blind eye' to Polygamy in the state!

    January 6, 2014 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Silence DoGood

    @If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses
    The religious are always screaming about their right to "freedom of religion", yet all they seem to do is force their "freedom of religion" on the rest of us at the expense of our freedoms. Allowing two consenting adults to marry, in no way diminishes your freedom to practice whatever religion you choose.
    ---------–
    The Radical Christian Right will not say what they mean (Total Theocracy) because people would recoil. Instead they lie (nice) with the "Freedom of Religion" banner. It is like Orwell's 1984: Their Freedom movement is all about suppressing everyone freedom and installing Christianity as State Religion.

    January 6, 2014 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. question

    so can I marry my buddy to take advantage of marrital benefits from my employer and the government?

    January 6, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. skarphace

    Thomas E

    " Marriage is defined by law and is therefore a civil contract," AGREED! Therefore, there can be NO DISCRIMINATION.

    -----

    Agreed again, and it should be the SCOTUS that decides when there is discrimination in our laws, and those laws should be tossed. Guess what? This is what is actually happening.

    January 6, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    Actually Obama is behind the pushing of gay issues because he is actually gay and has an arranged marriage for political reasons-sounds unbelievable but every word is true- every gay in the world knows Obama is gay but the straigts dont-when Obama was elected- his rich backers spent millions to hide his past history-and many more millions to keep the news of his in-eligibility to be president out of the news-right now in California there is a lawsuit against Obama's invalid SSN that he uses to make out his incometax with-it fails the E-VERIFY program that the government uses to verify SSN's- his real SSN was probably tied into crimes of his youth when he used his real name (Barry Soetoro) Obama uses a SSN of a man who was born in 1890 (Harrison Bounell) just GOOGLE "Mia Marie Pope" to hear one of Obama's old friends talk about his past- (it is shocking)
    ------–
    No one, no matter how well spoken and eloquent, can argue the case AGAINST a conservative Theocratic State better than this sad person here. It stands on its own, sadly.

    January 6, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. rs

    HaroldLewisBlair

    Actually Obama is behind the pushing of gay issues because he is actually gay and has an arranged marriage for political reasons-sounds unbelievable but every word is true- every gay in the world knows Obama is gay but the straigts dont-when Obama was elected- his rich backers spent millions to hide his past history-and many more millions to keep the news of his in-eligibility to be president out of the news-right now in California there is a lawsuit against Obama's invalid SSN that he uses to make out his incometax with-it fails the E-VERIFY program that the government uses to verify SSN's- his real SSN was probably tied into crimes of his youth when he used his real name (Barry Soetoro) Obama uses a SSN of a man who was born in 1890 (Harrison Bounell) just GOOGLE "Mia Marie Pope" to hear one of Obama's old friends talk about his past- (it is shocking)
    ______________________________
    Gee, I bet you don't believe in Science, Evolution or global warming, either.

    January 6, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. t2vodka

    I hope everyone that voted it down has something terrible happen to them. I can't stand people who like to control other peoples lives, they are the lowest of the low. These are the same type of people that approved slavery, owned slaves, and fought against banning slavery. Only now the fight is against gays.

    January 6, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Did You Ever Notice that....

    anybody that doesn't believe what the left believes, is a hater?
    anybody that doesn't do what the left does, is weird or a hick or a red neck?

    January 6, 2014 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. skarphace

    WhatsRight

    We have no sense of morality anymore. What ever happened to following the commandments of God, and not looking for ways around it.

    ----

    That is for you to decide based on your personal faith. It is not for you to decide for me based on your personal faith. Leave your faith out of my laws. Base my laws on the Consti tution, not on one person's interpretation of a religious text.

    January 6, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. tom l

    skarphace wrote:

    This is my original moniker, thank you very much, and I am between classes and am bored with the other news stories. Please do not as sume to know me. I would not show you that level of disrespect.
    -----––
    That's just his standard method of operation. He likes to launch personal attacks that are beyond ridiculous.

    ======

    Ummm, mine was a joke and was mocking you and many other liberals who constantly make that claim about conservative posters here. But why would Rudy understand that? He has no self awareness.

    January 6, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. sib

    the voting tax payers have a right to and if a majority say that's what they want then they should have it.

    January 6, 2014 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "I predicted that Utah would waste money on this, as it happened with black people, and women,...and..now it's happening with gay people."

    You can be sure the GOP/Teatrolls will find another group to focus on as sub-human and worthy of subjugations and oppression if they lose their latest one. You can almost hear them wanting to whine in front of the SCOTUS: "But if you take gays away, who will we have left to push around, bully and discriminate against?"

    January 6, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. skarphace

    question

    so can I marry my buddy to take advantage of marrital benefits from my employer and the government?

    ----

    If you live in a state where that is legal, then yes you can. However, remember that your marriage contract also dictates what happens in a divorce, so be wary. Personally, I would say that the tax benefits do not outweigh the divorce detriments, but that is just me.

    January 6, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Silence DoGood

    @WhatsRight
    We have no sense of morality anymore. What ever happened to following the commandments of God, and not looking for ways around it. I wish more states would follow in Utah's path. The gay marriage fight is not about equality and acceptance. It's about a left wing agenda and sin. This world today has a real Sin problem, and we will go to great lengths to hide it and justify it. Left Wingers scream tolerance to "all" people. But hate those who follow God's word. They are intolerant of Christians, and would love to shut them up, all the while promoting "tolerance". It's a joke really.There is no tolerance for Christians in Utah, or anywhere else. I hope Utah wins this....and I hope that we will not become push-overs.
    -----------–
    “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
    ~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams

    January 6, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. rs

    tom l

    And I think that moveon must have hired a new comment poster here. Skarphace is all over the board!
    ______________________________
    You think their motives might not be as pure as yours? Speaking of arrogance!

    January 6, 2014 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "so can I marry my buddy to take advantage of marrital benefits from my employer and the government?"

    Why wait? Go marry your female friend who you're not in love with RIGHT NOW! Gay marriage changes nothing about the fact that, guess what, very few people are legally binding themselves to one another with a government recognized marriage and the mutual rights that go along with it just as a means of abusing the tax code. Grow up.

    January 6, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. question

    could I then in fact marry several of my buddies so they could all garner employer and government benefits? or would that be "wrong"?

    January 6, 2014 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. Andy in Vic

    Good luck trying to make marriage a "states rights" issue. Too many Federal policies, procedures, benefits, and responsibilities tied up with the legal state of being married for that to happen. Rear guard actions will continue to be fought but, step by step, state by state, this one is moving to the new definition.

    January 6, 2014 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. just asking

    it sure does help distract from our crappy economy, lack of jobs and imploding healthcare system. democrats and obama love this stuff. better than building a colluseum!

    January 6, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  21. JOHN

    Science and global warming should never be used in the same sentence!

    January 6, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. skarphace

    Shane

    Yet Utah still turn a 'blind eye' to Polygamy in the state!

    ----

    Well, that is exactly the point. If a religious group wants to perform the marriage ceremony for a polygamist, then the church should be allowed to do so. However, it should be up to the state and federal governments to decide whether or not that marriage is given a certification based on the laws of the marriage contract in that state and at the federal level. And guess what? Such a marriage is not recognized and therefore is not issued a marriage contract. In the eyes of the church, they are married, but by civil law they are not. This is how it should be, and is pure "freedom of religion", not the tainted version that the far-right keeps trying to shove down our throats.

    January 6, 2014 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  23. tom l

    "I just wanted to let you know that someone can oppose gay marriage on not have an ounce of hatred nor a bigoted bone in their body. Children use the term hate. Adults understand that people have differences of opinion. Are there bigots and people that hate gay people who are against gay marriage? Of course. You just eliminate and form of discussion when you throw out those terms. You're better than that."

    You say that as if we're not constantly surrounded by and deluged with the ubiquitous conservative Christian commentary that proves me right. Are there a few exceptions to the rule? Sure. There always are. Do they speak up? Nope. Do they continue to support the agenda of hate? Yep. Does that make them enablers and just as bad? Without question.

    ========

    Please give me examples that prove the hate is the norm rather than the exception. Show me how we are "surrounded by and deluged with the ubiquitous conservative Christian commentary". If you were to look objectively rather than with emotion you will find the exact opposite to be true. The huge majority of people that oppose gay marriage that are Christians simply don't agree with it. It doesn't mean they have hate. It means they disagree. I live in the south, home of Christian conservatives, and I have to tell you that, generally speaking, my personal experience has been that they are extremely nice individuals and even though they disagree with my religioin (I'm Jewish) I don't feel the harbor an ounce of hate towards me. So prove to me that the rule is hate and that the exception is not.

    January 6, 2014 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. tullymd

    Corporations are people. Are gays people oh Supreme Court?

    January 6, 2014 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. sly

    "HaroldLewisBlair

    Actually Obama is behind the pushing of gay issues because he is actually gay and has an arranged marriage for political reasons. Obama is a communist, and not even from earth. He is actually an alien, and there is significant evidence of this. Obama was also the key Nazi behind WWII – unbelievable you think, but there are photo's of him with Hitler".
    -----

    Harold is an example of what happens when you do too many drugs before age 18. May God bless his damaged soul – there is nothing worse than a brain that has significant damage ... and is unhealable.

    January 6, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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