USA, Utah: After Supreme Court Issues Stay, Married Couples in Limbo

Written by scott on January 7th, 2014

Utah MapIn the wake of the US Supreme Court’s decision to stay same sex weddings in Utah, more than 1,000 couples who married in the last two weeks are in a legal limbo,

The New York Times reports:

In a move that cast doubt over the marriages of roughly 1,000 same-sex couples in Utah, the United States Supreme Court on Monday blocked further same-sex marriages there while state officials appeal a decision allowing such unions. The development created what Utah’s attorney general called “legal limbo” for the same-sex couples who had wed in the state in recent weeks. With the state’s ban on such unions reinstated for now, many wondered whether their window to marry in Utah had closed forever.

“As remarkable and miraculous as it was, we’re still cognizant of the fact that this still is one of the most conservative states in the union,” said Michael Ferguson, half of the first gay couple to receive a marriage license in the state. “I don’t feel a sense of despair or hopelessness or anything remotely close to that. This is part of living in a civil society where we have the rule of law.”

We know how they feel. Mark and I went through this twice – once in 2004, when our San Francisco wedding was overturned, and once i 2008, when it was not. But this is a little different, as the ban here was already i place, and we’re in a post DOMA/Prop 8 world.

Jacob Combs at Equality on Trial analyzes the stay:

First of all, the Utah situation is relatively unprecedented, and presents new questions for the justices to grapple with that Sotomayor may have wished to decided with her colleagues rather than on her own. But the most important reason that she likely referred the stay to the full court is the simplest: it was almost certain to get to them one way or another. If Justice Sotomayor had denied the stay, the state of Utah could have refiled the request with any other justice, according to the Supreme Court’s rules. For example, Utah could have gone to Justice Scalia in the hopes that he felt differently about the stay than Justice Sotomayor.

In theory, the state could keep doing this until five justices had individually denied the request for an emergency stay. And even if any justice did grant the stay, the party opposing a stay (in this case the couples) could go to the full court to have them vacate that stay! In order to avoid such a convoluted and drawn out process, justices who receive a petition that has been rejected by another justice typically refer the matter to the full court out of custom. Justice Sotomayor probably wanted to avoid the possibility of drawing out this issue and longer than necessary; an initial decision from the full court on the stay issue is final, and settles the matter conclusively.

So this might have been the best of all current possible outcomes.

Governor Herbert is happy but wishes the stay had been granted sooner.

CBS 12 reports:

Utah officials are praising a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to put a hold on gay marriage in the state. Gov. Gary Herbert says the stay should have been granted earlier to avoid uncertainty. Two previous courts turned down the state’s request for a stay.

And hunger-striking Trestin Meacham had a yogurt.

The Daily Beast reports:

The Supreme Court put a hold on a Utah judge’s ruling, invalidating the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and, in celebration, Trestin Meacham ate some yogurt. The 35-year-old one-time state senate candidate had been fasting for 15 days in protest of the court’s decision, hoping that his hunger strike would result in Utah nullifying the ruling. That didn’t happen. But Meacham is happy to count the Supreme Court’s stay as a personal victory, even if he acknowledges that starving himself almost certainly had no impact on the high court’s decision.

The Tenth Circuit has expedited the appeal, so we could see a trial there as soon as March 17th.

Keen News Service reports:

The challenge to Utah’s ban (the state constitutional Amendment 3 and related statutes), Kitchen v. Herbert, now proceeds as Herbert v. Kitchen on an expedited schedule before the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The next briefing date, according to attorney Peggy Tomsic who is part of the team representing same-sex couples, is January 27. The last brief due before oral argument is February 25. The court date has not yet been announced but the next argument session after that deadline is March 17-21.

Utah’s argument? Think Progress reports:

Although they attempt to address the first proposition — i.e., that children generally do better in various ways when raised by a mother and father, at least one of whom (or preferably both) is a biological parent — Respondents attack a straw man: They mischaracterize this point as an argument that “same-sex parents are inferior to opposite-sex parents.” That is not the point: The State does not contend that the individual parents in same-sex couples are somehow “inferior” as parents to the individual parents who are involved in married, mother-father parenting. The point, rather, is that the combination of male and female parents is likely to draw from the strengths of both genders in ways that cannot occur with any combination of two men or two women, and that this gendered, mother-father parenting model provides important benefits to children.

That this would be so is hardly surprising. Society has long recognized that diversity in education brings a host of benefits to students. If that is true in education, why not in parenting? At a minimum, the State and its people could rationally conclude that gender diversity — i.e., complementarity — in parenting is likely to be beneficial to children. And the State and its people could therefore rationally decide to encourage such diversity by limiting the coveted status of “marriage” to man-woman unions.

LMAO at that streeeeeeeetch.

For now, the weddings of the last two weeks remain valid, though a future decision could change that.


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Meri Equality Justus says:

    This is Ridiculous, why do these people feel it is their right to stop other people from being happy. a persons RIGHTS END when they Trample on another Persons RIGHTS. and that is exactly what they are doing.

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