The state is the first to appeal to the nation's highest court since last year's landmark decision throwing out the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act. A number of federal and state judges have ruled since then that barring gay and lesbian couples from marriage violates the Constitution's Equal Protection clause.
Utah asked the Supreme Court to decide "whether the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a state from defining or recognizing marriage only as the legal union between a man and a woman." If the high court refuses to hear the case, an appeals court decision that Utah's ban is unconstitutional would stand throughout the 10th Circuit, which includes Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.
State Attorney General Sean Reyes said Utah filed its petition weeks before the Sept. 23 deadline because the state wants a quick resolution of the issue.
Officials in some states, including Oregon and Pennsylvania, have declined to appeal federal court decisions overturning bans on same-sex marriage. Reyes has countered critics who say Utah should follow suit by saying he has an obligation to uphold an amendment approved by Utah citizens.