The Supreme Court has spoken and issued an unanimous stay that gay marriage will remain legal in Utah. Hundreds of gay couples have gotten married in Utah over the last month, but the state will not recognize their marriages for the time being. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that the state’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional, but that ruling has been put on hold by the Supreme Court pending an appeal.
“Based on counsel from the Attorney General’s Office regarding the Supreme Court decision, state recognition of same-sex marital status is ON HOLD until further notice,” wrote Republican Governor Gary Herbert’s chief of staff in a statement. The U.S. Supreme Court is also preventing new same-sex marriages from taking place in Utah for the time being.
“For the governor to just overturn a court-mandated judgment just blows my mind,” said Paul Butterfield, who is raising 11-year-old twin boys with his partner of 18 years, Tony. The couple wed in Utah last month and are currently seeking legal advice about how to move forward.
A lawsuit had been brought against the state by three gay and lesbian couples in Utah, claiming that their constitutional rights were being violated in not being allowed to get married. Although the the gay marriage ban was passed by voters in 2004, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby agreed with the plaintiffs and said it violated gay and lesbians couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
Attorneys for the state argued that the law was simply supporting the “optimal mode of child rearing,” but Shelby said the state didn’t successfully prove that allowing gay marriage would affect same-sex marriage in any way. The ruling came just 24 hours after New Mexico had also legalized same-sex marriage.