ST. GEORGE – The U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning denied Utah’s request for the high court’s review of its marriage statutes, defining marriage as only between a man and a woman and banning same-sex marriage, and the propriety of a U.S. district court finding those statutes unconstitutional. The Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari without comment in a list of over 1,500 other petitions denied.
Among other things, the state argued in its petition for certiorari in Herbert v. Kitchen, that the Supreme Court needed to decide that the right to establish a legal definition of marriage belongs to the state and not to the federal government, that no uniform marriage definition exists under the Constitution. The state’s petition acknowledged differing views of marriage, but the question for the Supreme Court was not which view is better, the petition argued, but whether the Constitution compels states to adopt either definition.
With the petition for cert denied by the Supreme Court, the question of states rights to defined marriage is, at least for now, decided in favor of U.S. district judges’ rulings on such statutes; decisions to date have found such state statutes banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Utah’s petition was one of seven similar petitions on the issue denied Monday.
“This means that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia should go into effect shortly, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other states with similar bans in those districts,” blogger Amy Howe posted Monday on on SCOTUS blog.com.
Utah’s Amendment 3 became state law in 2004 upon 2/3 majority voter referendum. Amendment 3 was originally struck down as unconstitutional by federal District Judge Robert Shelby on Dec. 20, 2013, at which point more than 1,200 same-sex couples were married in Utah before a stay was placed on the ruling by the Supreme Court on Jan 6, 2014.
A series of legal maneuvers followed, with the last stay on Shelby’s order issued July 18 by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor pending final disposition of the appeal by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
Shelby decision reinstated
Shortly after 10 a.m. Monday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order to the states to once again issue marriage licences to same-sex couples.
State and county responses
Before the 10th Circuit’s order was issued, Washington County Clerk Kim Hafen said he had been in touch with County Attorney Brock Belnap. They are working with the Utah Association of Counties, seeking direction from Attorney General Sean Reyes. The consensus at about 10 a.m. was that the decision falls back to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a stay on Shelby’s order was issued pending 10th Circuit appellate decision – an appeal Utah deferred by going first to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The governor is scheduled to issue a statement from the Gold Room of the State Capitol at 11:30 a.m.
Story updated at 11:15 a.m.
St. George News Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this story
- 10th Circuit Count order mandating the states once again issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples
- Herbert v Kitchen Petition for Writ of Certiorari and Appendix
- Oct 6 2014 10th Circuit Stay lifted in Kitchen v Herbert
- High court may consider hearing Utah’s same-sex marriage case
- State files cert petition with Supreme Court in defense of marriage laws
- Supreme Court grants stay on same-sex marriage recognition
- Appeals court denies Utah’s request to stay recognition of same-sex marriages
- State leaders, others respond to court striking down Amendment 3
- Judge orders Utah to recognize same-sex marriages from 17-day window
- Big company names throw support behind same-sex marriage
- Perspectives: The greatest threat to marriage, loss of sanctity
- ON Kilter: The gay marriage debate is over
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