Tenth Circuit denies Utah’s appeal for stay on same-sex marriage ruling

ST. GEORGE – Utah’s efforts to stop the impact of a federal court decision finding its marriage statute excluding same-sex marriage unconstitutional were again frustrated Tuesday, this time by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeal.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby issued a memorandum decision finding Utah’s marriage statute unconstitutional as to that part known as Amendment 3 which passed with the support of over 66 percent of the voters in 2004. Amendment 3 defined marriage in Utah as consisting only between a man and a woman and affirmatively denying recognition of any other domestic union.

By Friday afternoon, same-sex couples were seeking marriage licenses from clerks across the state.

Friday evening, discussions were had between representatives for the state, the plaintiffs in the case, and Shelby in which the state sought to make an oral motion for emergency stay. A stay would put a halt to the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples pending an appeal of Shelby’s ruling by the state. Shelby denied the state’s request to make its motion orally on Friday night and set a hearing on the request for emergency stay for Monday morning.

After hearing the parties on the motion Monday, Shelby denied the state’s request for emergency stay.  The judge based his denial of the motion for stay on four grounds:

  1. The state had not shown it was likely to win an appeal of the decision
  2. There would be no harm to the state in allowing same-sex couples to marry
  3. Harm could occur to same-sex couples being denied the right to marry
  4. Any public interest in preserving the democratic process that had occurred in Utah was outweighed by the interest of preserving the constitutional rights of its citizens

The state appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on the two rulings: One, to override Shelby and issue an emergency stay stopping same-sex marriages and to issue a temporary stay until the state’s appeals could be heard, and two, on the case decision itself.

On Tuesday, the Tenth Circuit upheld Shelby’s ruling denying the stay and ordered consideration of the state’s appeal on the case as a whole be expedited.

“We are disappointed in the decision by the 10th Circuit to deny a stay,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement released Tuesday night. “We plan to appeal the denial to the Supreme Court on Thursday morning.”

Since Friday, over 700 same-sex marriages have been conducted across Utah, and for now will continue unhindered.

St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.


20131220 Memorandum Decision Utah Amendment 3 marriage law

20131223 District Court Judge Shelby’s Order on Motion to Stay

20131224 10th Circuit Order on Appeal

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • simone December 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    YES! 🙂

  • Dixielambs December 24, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    OK, Utah (thick skulled officials) squander our tax money on futile appeals. What part of: “the rights of individuals out weigh the desires of a bigoted majority” don’t U understand?

    • stephe hatch December 24, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      I agree completely with you!!

  • rhoda December 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Utah Mormons think they rule the world. They are brainwashed and can’t think or see the world outside the box.

    • Roger December 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      My religious way of thinking is a choice, your way of thinking is being forced on people. Which is worse??

      • Chicho Blanco December 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm

        Roger you are a moron. Nothing is being forced on you. If you don’t want to get gay married then don’t. If you want to be an ignorant, white trash bigot you can still be one.

      • Nonbeliever December 25, 2013 at 7:38 pm

        Roger do any missionaries for same sex couples knock on your door?Are they leaving pamphlets?
        Do your gay neighbors show up on your doorstep asking you to join them for church services, ward dinners, social functions or lunch dates?
        Receiving phone call solicitations to join them? Emails? Personal letters?
        Are they looking down on you or critizing you or your family for not being homosexual? Harassing? Writing comments on line telling you that you should be gay?
        Not one thing is being forced on you.
        You can ignore these people just like you do everyone else that you dislike based on whatever skewed and hateful beliefs you have polluting your mind.
        Please stay home and leave the people capable of compassion and respect to go about living.

  • Giuseppe December 25, 2013 at 3:53 am

    <— heterosexual male. So proud to be an American. I severed in the Army and swore to defend the Constitution, it is about time we gave all our citizens the same rights. I hope that I see all States allowing same sex marriage. What a fantastic and historical thing to witness. Best of luck to all couples getting married and congratulations.

  • Craig December 25, 2013 at 6:34 am

    This is awesome news.

  • Fable Vayne December 25, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Hopefully, there will be some electoral consequences for these officials who think continuing to deny gay people equal rights is a proper use of state resources.

    • Craig December 25, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Yup…let’s begin with Gov. Herbie and work our way down from there.
      On another note, I wonder if Orrin is smacking himself over recommending Judge Shelby.
      Maybe he’ll write a sappy song to commemorate the events that are unfolding.

    • Treason December 25, 2013 at 9:13 am

      The court house workers who refuse to issue marriage licenses should be fired and fined. Government workers are required to perform their government appointed duties. Police and firemen are required to perform their duties. They cannot selectively say, “Nope. I ain’t doin nuthin for that person, cuz I gots me religious beliefs and dat person ain’t complyin to my religious beliefs.” Fire all of them. Hold their pay. They are not doing their jobs.

      • Nonbeliever December 25, 2013 at 7:40 pm

        Now that I would love to see happen. However I suspect they will receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist if anything.

  • Tradition December 25, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Marriages are civil in order to make it legally binding. Church marriages are a ritual, but you got to sign the marriage certificate and file it in the courthouse to make it a legal marriage and for couples to obtain legal rights for non-religion things such as joint insurance, file joint return taxes, have rights of inheritance, etc. You don’t see divorces performed in churches to undo the marriage performed there. I think if someone got married in a church and want a divorce, they have to stand in front of the preacher who says “I take the marriage back” or something like that. Now some churches have rituals they perform to pretend a previous marriage didn’t happen. That’s for those people whose God apparently made a mistake with their church union, and the ritual makes that marriage just disappear. Does God make mistakes by putting people together who shouldn’t be together? You’d think the church doors would automatically lock to keep them out and prevent that ritual. However, the divorce records still remain. Question about that is if the people married in the church have kids, and they get divorces and they have the church erase the marriage, does that give their kids the status of being born out of wedlock?

  • JAR December 25, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Excuse me if I sound somewhat Old Fashion, but when Texas finally says it want to exit the union of the United States because of all this ‘politically correct crap’, I hope Utah tags along.

    • Ron December 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      You can leave right now, JAR. We won’t miss you.

      • Bingo December 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm

        You can leave. Perhaps go to your polygamy planet of kolob where men are gods with harems of women.

  • Steve December 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    I expect the editor to delete all of the hateful comments where people are being called bigots or haters for holding a sincere view. It’s inaccurate, and it’s slander. The wrong crowd has been responding on this topic, and it makes our community look bad when indeed we have a huge majority of nice, tolerant people living here.

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