Thursday, January 9, 2014

Utah: The Supreme Court puts Gay Marriage on Hold

The Supreme Court put a stop to same-sex marriages in conservative Utah on Monday while the state appeals a federal district court's ruling that had legalized the unions. 
The justices, acting on a petition sent to Justice Sonia Sotomayor, ruled that gay marriages cannot continue during the appeals process. The case is pending before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled Dec. 20 that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates gay and lesbian couples' constitutional rights. Since then, more than 900 same-sex couples in the state have wed. 
While blocking new marriages, the court's order should not throw into question those already performed, argued John Mejia, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. 
"Though future marriages are on hold for now, the state should recognize as valid those marriages that have already been issued, and those couples should continue to be treated as married by the federal government," Mejia said.
Another unanswered question: what happens to couples who received marriage licenses but had not gotten married yet? Couples have 30 days to have their weddings before the license expires; the official presiding has another 30 days to submit the license back to the county clerk.   
The gay marriage case was one of two emergency petitions pending before Sotomayor. In the other case, she temporarily blocked the new federal health care law from forcing a religious-affiliated group to begin the process of providing free birth control. The Justice Department objected, and a final court order is likely soon.
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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