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Another court says No to Utah

And Yes to the hundreds of couples getting married.


A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that gay marriages can continue in Utah, denying a request from the state to halt same-sex weddings that have been occurring at a rapid rate since last week.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ rejection of Utah’s request for an emergency stay marks yet another legal setback for the state. The same federal judge who ruled that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights previously denied the state’s request to halt the marriages.

The appeals court said in its short ruling that a decision to put gay marriage on hold was not warranted, but said it put the case on the fast track for a full appeal of the ruling.

Utah’s last chance to temporarily stop the marriages would be the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s what the UtahAttorney General’s Office is prepared to do, said spokesman Ryan Bruckman. “We’re disappointed in the ruling, but we just have to take it to the next level,” Bruckman said.

Gov. Gary Herbert’s office declined comment on the decision.

Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at Virginia’s University of Richmond who has tracked legal battles for gay marriage, thinks Utah faces long odds to get their stay granted, considering two courts have already rejected it and marriages have been going on for days now.

“The longer this goes on, the less likely it becomes that any court is going to entertain a stay,” Tobias said.

It’s certainly possible that Utah could prevail in court later, when the 10th Circuit rules on the merits of the case. Seems increasingly unlikely that will happen, given the rulings so far and the certainty that by the time the appeal is heard it will be clear that no harm has come to anyone as a result of these nuptials, but you never know. I don’t know what the 10th Circuit’s calendar looks like, but it’s possible that by the time they have their hearing that Texas’ case could have been heard, and that there may be an injunction in place in Texas as well. I know I was dismissive of the chance that an injunction could be put in place against Texas’ anti-gay marriage law, but that was before the developments in New Mexico, Utah, and Ohio. It’s impossible to miss the pattern that’s being set, and it’s impossible to overlook the potential implications. I’m somewhat amazed that there hasn’t been more of a reaction to all this from Texas Republicans, many of whom are falling all over themselves to stand with that Duck Dynasty guy. Maybe their attention span is too small, maybe they’re in denial, or maybe they can see it coming and just don’t want to talk about it, I don’t know. I imagine we’ll hear plenty if Texas gets the same treatment from the courts that Utah has gotten.

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