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Utah filing asks top court to stop gay marriages pending appeal

Hundreds of couples obtained licences since gay-marriage ban was struck down

Utah's new attorney-general, Sean Reyes, filed papers with the US Supreme Court asking it to stay a federal judge's ruling that struck down the state's gay-marriage ban, pending an appeal. Credit: 4utah.com

Utah state officials have filed an application with the US Supreme Court asking it to stay a district court judge's ruling that struck down a ban on same-sex marriage, pending an appeal, LGBTQ Nation reports.

In the days after Judge Robert J Shelby's decision, state officials sought a stay of the ruling. But both Shelby and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied their requests.

Utah's new attorney-general, Sean Reyes, and Governor Gary Herbert have now filed papers with Justice Sonia Sotomayor asking her to stop same-sex marriages from proceeding.

Their filing states that the case "involves not just a refusal by the federal government to accommodate a State's definition of marriage, but an outright abrogation of such definition — by a single federal court wielding a federal injunction and acting under the banner of the federal constitution."

It further states that "as a result of the district court's injunction, numerous same-sex marriages are now occurring every day in Utah. And each one is an affront not only to the interests of the State and its citizens in being able to define marriage through ordinary democratic channels, but also to this Court's unique role as final arbiter of the profoundly important constitutional question that it so carefully preserved in Windsor," a reference to the Supreme Court's Defense of Marriage Act ruling in June.

"A stay is urgently needed to preserve these prerogatives pending appeal and, if necessary, this Court's ultimate review, and to minimize the enormous disruption to the State and its citizens of potentially having to 'unwind' thousands more same-sex marriages should this Court ultimately conclude, as the State strongly maintains, that the district court's judgment and injunction exceed its constititional authority."

Hundreds of gay couples now have marriage licences in hand since Shelby ruled that Utah’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Utah voters approved the ban in 2004.