Ruth Hackford-Peer, right, and Kim Hackford-Peer are married by Rev. Curtis Price, while hugging their two children in the lobby of the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office on Dec. 20. Kim Raff/AP
The United States Supreme Court has put same-sex marriages on hold in the state of Utah.
The order issued by the court on Monday halts same-sex marriages until an appeal is decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
If you remember, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down Utah’s constitutional ban on gay marriage on Dec. 20, saying it irrationally demeans the dignity of same-sex couples. Since then, Utah has sought a stay of that ruling, while it appeals the decision with a higher court.
After Shelby and then Tenth Circuit Court denied Utah’s request for a stay, the state asked the Supreme Court to step in. They have now ruled in favor of Utah, halting any new marriages in the state.
Update at 10:54 a.m. ET. Support Of The Full Court?
The short order says that Justice Sonia Sotomayor referred the request to the full court.
As Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog notes, that seems to mean that the stay has the support of the full court because the order does not note any dissent.
Lyle goes on:
“The ruling can be interpreted as an indication that the Court wants to have further exploration in lower courts of the basic constitutional question of state power to limit marriage to a man and a woman. Had it refused the state’s request for delay, that would have at least left the impression that the Court was comfortable allowing same-sex marriages to go forward in the 33 states where they are still banned.”
The order, by the way, does not give any reasoning for the decision. As we reported, Utah argued that allowing marriages, while an appeal is in process, would lead to confusion.
If Shelby’s ruling was eventually overturned, the state argued, it would leave same-sex couples who married in Utah under a “cloud of uncertainty.”
On CNN, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said it’s still unclear what the status of the marriages already performed is now.