Judge refuses stay on Utah same-sex ruling

Dec. 23, 2013 at 2:16 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A federal judge in Utah Monday quickly refused a state request to stay his ruling striking down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage.

State attorneys told U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby in Salt Lake City if same-sex couples were allowed to marry in Utah they would be irreparably harmed if his ruling eventually is overturned on appeal, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported.

After the short hearing Monday morning in Salt Lake City on the request for a stay, Shelton took less than an hour to return to the courtroom and issue a denial. The judge said the state merely was raising arguments he had already rejected.

Shelby ruled Friday Utah's Amendment 3, approved by voters in 2004, is unconstitutional, saying the ban violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection and due process guarantees. He granted the state's request for a hearing Monday morning on whether the ruling should be stayed.

Sunday, a federal appeals court in Denver refused to block Shelby's ruling, but left the door open for the state to make new requests.

Betsy Shumaker, clerk for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said a lot would depend on Monday's hearing, and the appeals court denial of a stay was made "without prejudice to renewal."

Shumaker said that means "there is a possibility, depending on what happens down the road procedurally and legally, that the state of Utah could file a renewal request for stay in the 10th Circuit," the Deseret News reported.

Meanwhile, the Tribune said, hundreds of same-sex couples have been lining up at county clerks' offices to apply for marriage licenses.

Utah is one of 33 states that enacted constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Seventeen others permit same-sex marriages, either because of court rulings, legislative action or popular votes.

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