Utah AG To Appeal, Seeking Stay Against Marriage Ruling (Updated)

Jim Burroway

December 20th, 2013

The Utah Attorney General’s office says that it will seek an emergency stay against the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby finding the state’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional. The AG office issued this brief statement:

The federal district court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right has never been established in any previous case in the 10th Circuit. The state is requesting an emergency stay pending the filing of an appeal. The Attorney General’s Office will continue reviewing the ruling in detail until an appeal is filed to support the constitutional amendment passed by the citizens of Utah.

Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has also issued a brief statement:

“I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. I am working with my legal counsel and the acting Attorney General to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.”

ABC news reports that “dozens” had already lined up at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office, including State Sen. Jim Dabakis and his longtime partner, Stephen Justesen. Salt Lake City mayor Ralph Becker is on hand to officiate:

The LDS has reacted to the ruling:

Cody Craynor, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released the following statement in response to the ruling.

“The Church has been consistent in its support of traditional marriage while teaching that all people should be treated with respect. This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.”

Update: Equality on Trial says that the state has appealed the judge’s decision to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals:

The state defendants in the challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban have filed an appeal of today’s decision striking down the ban. Earlier today, a federal district court ruled that the ban is unconstitutional. There is not yet an application for a stay of the district court decision…

Timothy Kincaid

December 20th, 2013

Judge Shelby issued a summary judgment. This pretty much means that he finds the defendants of the law have no merit to their argument. He may not issue the stay.


December 20th, 2013

First Surprise: This announcement came on a Friday afternoon before a holiday. Was it by design? It will likely take until January 4th before anything is done about the stay. And nobody wants to be a Scrooge at this time of year.

Second Surprise: And it is pleasant. To see Salt Lake City Mayor Becker officiating at Jim’s and Stephen’s wedding. My heartiest congratulations to the couple. And who or what would dare undo this ritual. It would be categorized as pure hate to take away this civil right from all these couples.

Third Surprise: Why would any person not think this amendment wasn’t unconstitutional.

But, I remember my Senator Orrin Hatch saying the only way to stop same-sex marriage would be with a federal amendment to the Constitution. And that’s not likely.

I will relish this day for a long time. And Utah will be a part of this historical event and same-sex marriages will be a political non-issue in 2016 because it will be moot.


December 21st, 2013

Surely the religious right wouldn’t want the judge to work during the Christmas Holidays. :)


December 21st, 2013

And of course, the AG’s statement misrepresents the opinion. Judge Shelby was quite plain in saying that the state has no right to exclude gay couples from marriage, which is a fundamental right, not, as the AG claims, that there is a constitutional right to “same-sex marriage.” (The opinion addresses that question beginning on p. 27.)

Timothy Kincaid: Judge Shelby demolished the state’s arguments, brick by brick. It’s really a joy to read.

Priya Lynn

December 21st, 2013

Hunter, do you have a link to the ruling?


December 24th, 2013

Hunter, great point! I almost missed it! That subtle twisting of words from ‘a fundamental right to marriage regardless of the sex of your would-be spouse’ to ‘a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.’ Verbally, only slightly different, but worlds apart in meaning. Shelby didn’t determine the latter, but rather upheld the former as a previously determined right!

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