SALT LAKE CITY – A three-judge panel with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against issuing a stay on a lower court ruling that orders Utah to recognize the more than 1,200 same-sex marriages performed in the state during the 17 days those marriages were legal.
In a 2-1 decision, the panel decided Friday not to grant Utah’s request for a stay on the original ruling by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball on May 19. In that ruling, Kimball ordered the state government to “immediately recognize the marriages by the same-sex couples entered pursuant to Utah marriage licenses issued and solemized between Dec. 20, 2013 and Jan. 6, 2014, and afford these same-sex marriages all the protections, benefits and responsibilities given to all marriages under Utah law.”
The state subsequently appealed Kimball’s ruling and requested a stay pending the final outcome of the Amendment 3 court battle.
Earlier this week the Utah Attorney General’s Office announced it plans to take the Amendment 3 fight to the U.S. Supreme Court. The move skips a review and ruling of the case that could have taken place before the entirety of the 10th Court of Appeals, and not just a three-judge panel that issued the latest ruling.
The judges on the panel that ruled against Utah’s appeal of Kitchen v. Herbert, the original Amendment 3 case, are the same judges who ruled on this case, Evens v. Utah. They are Judges Paul J. Kelly, Carlos F. Lucero, and Jerome A. Holmes. Kelly dissented on the ruling.
However, the marriages performed during the 17-day window will not be immediately recognized by the state. The appeals court issued a temporary stay on its ruling that ends at 8 a.m., July 21. This has been done in order to allow the state time to take an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office issued the following statement to media in response to the ruling:
In response to the United States Court of Appeal for the Tenth Circuit denial of stay in Evans v. Utah, the State is prepared to file an Application for Stay before the United States Supreme Court in the coming days to avoid uncertainty, as noted by the dissenting Judge on the Tenth Circuit. The State recognizes that pending cases regarding same-sex marriage in Utah impact the lives of many individuals and families and is diligently seeking uniform certainty through proper and orderly legal processes until Kitchen v Herbert is resolved.
State Sen. James Dabakis, who was married during the 17-day window, also issued a statement regarding the ruling:
Issue before the court was limited to the 1352 marriages performed while same sex marriage was legal in Utah. Did the Governor have the right to unilaterally declare those marriages void? 10th Circuit said no. But, the court granted a stay on the recognition of those marriages–that stay expires July 21. Today the 10th Circuit in Denver said–no extension of the stay. Meaning, unless Herbert and Reyes get a stay from the Supreme Court, the 1352 marriages are legal and lawful on July 22 (great 24th present). Those folks are Utah married and entitled to all the benefits of every married couple.
I have only one question of the Governor and the Attorney General. How much more money are they going to spend on lawsuits? They have already have committed around $10 million to the Supreme Court case of Kitchen v Herbert. And now, will they open the taxpayers checkbook again? For another, separate appeal in another case? Clearly, that would be fiscally irresponsible and morally reprehensible.
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