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All Utah counties now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

All of Utah’s 29 counties are now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a victory for marriage equality advocates as a district court judge’s decision invalidating the state’s ban on equal marriage rights makes its way through the appellate courts.  The AP reports:

The last of the Utah counties that were holding out on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples reversed course Thursday and decided to hand out licenses to all eligible applicants.

Officials for the four holdouts — Box Elder, Utah, Piute and San Juan counties — told The Associated Press they made the decision to offer licenses to same-sex couples.

San Juan County Clerk Norman Johnson said “what finalized it for me” was Gov. Gary Herbert’s order to state agencies to comply with Shelby’s decision and change procedures for the delivery of state services. To that end, the Utah Department of Workforce Services is recognizing gay couples for food stamp and welfare benefits.

For Johnson, Herbert’s directive was the “final straw,” together with a refusal Tuesday by the Denver-based appeals court to stay Shelby’s decision pending an appeal from state lawyers.

County clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples could have been held in contempt of federal court if they had not chosen to heed the judge’s order.

Yesterday, the Utah Attorney General’s office told FOX 13 that it would not file an emergency stay request of the district court ruling with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor–who handles requests out of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals–”for a few days.”

“The attorney general’s office is working to prepare the appeal to the Supreme Court on the 10th Circuit’s denial of a stay. Due to the necessity of coordination with outside counsel the filing of the appeal may be delayed for a few days,” Ryan Bruckman, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, told FOX 13′s Ben Winslow. “It is the intent of the AG’s office to file with the Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

Until a stay is issued by the high court–which indeed it may not be–same-sex couples will continue to be allowed to wed in Utah.

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14 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Richard Weatherwax  |  December 27, 2013 at 8:42 am

    A lot can happen in "a few days." The state obviously need time to decide what to do. If they appeal the decision to the 10th circuit court, then a loss by the state would probably apply to the full 10th circuit. Whether they win or lose in the 10th circuit, it would almost definitely go to the Supreme Court. They might be wiser not to appeal. On the other hand, they believe that God is on their side.

  • 2. Bruno71  |  December 27, 2013 at 8:58 am

    The New Civil Rights Movement believes that this appeal on the stay is high profile enough to warrant Sotomayor referring the petition to the full bench: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/utah-to-ask-

  • 3. GregG  |  December 27, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Yep. The Governor and the AG are really in a tight spot. If they drop the appeal they will get blasted by their base within the state (similar to Christie after he declined to pursue an appeal that was clearly going to lose) but the Utah decision will be confined to Utah. If they go forward with the appeal they will likely lose and marriage equality will come to all of the 10th Circuit states. I doubt SCOTUS will take a case where an Appeals court has sided with marriage equality. They will wait until there is a circuit split (and hopefully plenty of circuits on the side of equality).

  • 4. Bruno71  |  December 27, 2013 at 9:55 am

    As does the New York Times. They use the word "certainly": http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/us/utah-ruli

  • 5. Richard Weatherwax  |  December 27, 2013 at 10:01 am

    A full bench response takes the risk of tipping the Court's hand, which they do not like to do. I have been wondering if the full Court can merely refuse to consider an appeal for a stay. That way they would not be tipping their hand.

  • 6. Bruno71  |  December 27, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Not totally certain of this, but if Sotomayor refers this issue to the full court, I assume they have to consider it. Denying the petition is pretty much the same result as refusing to consider it, and I don't think it tips the court's hand on the overall issue.

  • 7. StraightDave  |  December 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Didn't Roberts refuse a stay in the DC case a couple years ago, letting marriages proceed while it was still on appeal? The appeal eventually failed, so the no-stay was validated in the end. That certainly didn't "tip any hands".

    Anyway, I still believe Roberts to be a closet supporter when the time is right and all the ducks are lined up perfectly… and not a moment sooner. But the other 5 might well steal his thunder and flip the switch before Roberts is quite ready.

  • 8. StraightDave  |  December 27, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Lots of weasel words in the AG's announcement, keeping their options open while looking like they're doing something professional (for a change). I'd prefer for them to appeal. The absence of a stay makes it irrelevant and the odds of an appeal succeeding are slim – the 10th gave their hint and SCOTUS will duck. It provides us one more chance for a big influential victory in the conservative heartland. If we somehow lose, it forces SCOUTS' hand in Spring 2015, by when they might have got over their fears. That is a long freakin' time from now in "equality years".

  • 9. D.Henderson-Rinehart  |  December 27, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Yes, he did. Read the opinion in Jackson v. DC Board of Elections and Ethics.

  • 10. Bruno71  |  December 27, 2013 at 11:44 am

    What we're looking to be "tipped off" on is how stays at the district, appeals, and SCOTUS level will be dealt with from hereon. Roberts may have tipped his hand that a stay was not necessary in DC, but in DC the law was passed by the city council properly and there was really no question about its legitimacy. Now, of course, I feel that Shelby's ruling will be found to be legitimate, but from the eyes of the high court, a reversal of a state amendment by a lower court is a different ballgame than what happened in DC. So what SCOTUS does with Utah's stay request now will tip off other state defendants in such lawsuits as to what kind of chance they stand on getting a stay in future cases.

  • 11. SoCal_Dave  |  December 27, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    IF the request for a stay goes to the full SCOTUS, will we know how many and who voted which way?

  • 12. Straight Ally #3008  |  December 27, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    A major difference, though, is that New Jersey has very few religous right voters, while Utah is the home base for the Mormon hierarchy that funded Prop 8. It made very few ripples in NJ, even if Gov. Christie weren't as popular as he was I can't see it making much of an electoral impact.

  • 13. Marriage Equality Round-U&hellip  |  December 28, 2013 at 9:19 am

    […] USA: All Utah counties are now issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. full story […]

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