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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Utah:

Part 4
Still another state stay request rejected. 2 events.
Some counties refuse to supply marriage licenses.
State appeals to U.S. Supreme Court. Comment.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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2013-DEC-22: The state issues another stay request with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals:

In their third request for a stay, state attorneys asked the Court of Appeals to grant an emergency stay to immediately stop same-sex marriages. If granted, it would have remain in place until the Court of Appeals issues its ruling -- probably sometime in 2014.

It was also denied. 1 However the Court of Appeals did put the appeal on its fast track.

Spokesperson Ryan Bruckman said:

"'We‚€™re disappointed in the ruling, but we just have to take it to the next level,'

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2013-DEC-23: Two interesting events:

  • Joanna Brooks, who writes for Religion Dispatches, posted an article titled "Boy Scouts, Gay Marriage & Pizza." It seems that the dedicated employee in some Utah county offices were skipping their lunch in order to handle the many hundreds of same-sex engaged couples who were lining up around the block waiting to apply for marriage licenses. Some Boy Scouts in Salt Lake City delivered pizzas to the workers so that they would not go hungry.

  • "fiona64" posted a comment to Brooks' article linking:
    • The tens of millions of dollars that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- the main Mormon Church -- and its members used to fund Proposition 8 in California during late 2008. This citizen initiative banned same-sex marriage there for almost five years until it was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court during 2013-JUN.

    • The concept of Karma, which teaches that when a person or group performs an act that hurts others, they will eventually pay for it, with

    • The recent flood of happy, loving, committed same-sex couples being able to marry in Utah.

She quoted a comment from the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Dear Utah:
Karma's a bitch.
Love, California." 2

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2013-DEC-23 to 26: County Clerk's Office initially refuses to supply marriage license to same-sex couple. The couple sues:

Shelly Eyre, and Cheryl Haws applied to the Utah County Clerk's Office in Provo, UT on 2013-DEC-23. They were refused a license. The office personnel apparently had made the decision to not start providing licenses to same-sex couples until the Court of Appeals had decided whether to issue a stay to the District Court ruling. The couple launched a lawsuit against the Clerk's Office.

They returned to the office on DEC-26. By this time, the Court of Appeals had rejected the state's request for a stay, and the Clerk's Office had started distributing licenses. Cheryl Haws said that she and her partner will probably cancel their lawsuit.

Haws said:

"We felt this was the transformation we were looking for. As of right now, we feel very happy."

She commented that she appreciated Utah County Clerk/Auditor Bryan Thompson's compassion and the kindness shown to her and her partner. 3

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2013-DEC-24: The state takes it to "the next level:"

The "next level" is an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. On Christmas Eve, Utah officials started to prepare still another emergency appeal. They certainly are a tenacious lot!

The Washington Post reports:

"Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at Virginia‚€™s University of Richmond ... said he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to make a decision by Friday [DEC-27]. He 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."

Meanwhile on the order of 700 marriage licenses have been sold to same-sex couples since the District Court legalized SSM. Probably most of the 700 couples have been married by now.

Clerks in some counties were refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, preferring to wait until the situation stabilizes. The Attorney General warned these counties that they could be held in contempt of court. 4

The state government had intended to file their appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, DEC-26. However, they decided to turn to an outside legal group for help in preparing the document. One the appeal is filed -- perhaps on Monday DEC-30 -- the plaintiffs will be given time to respond.

The appeal will probably be considered by all 9 justices on the Supreme Court because of its high profile.

Carl Tobias is a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, and a specialist in federal court matters and constitutional law. He said:

"You‚€™ve had one district judge and two 10th Circuit judges look at the stay question and resolve it against the state of Utah. To some extent, there may be deference from the Supreme Court on that. I think it‚€™s hard to reverse three judges. The more stays that are denied, the more difficult it becomes. ... "My reading of the order out of the 10th Circuit was that Utah‚€™s arguments weren‚€™t that strong. I just think ... [the stay by the U.S. Supreme Court is] unlikely to be granted." 5

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2013-DEC-28: Comment by Rick L. Knuth, a Salt Lake City attorney on the recent federal District Court decision legalizing SSM:

He suggested that Judge Shelby's ruling was a logical extension of previous rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, including:

  • Loving v. Virginia, that legalized interracial marriage across the U.S. in 1967.

  • Lawrence v. Texas, that legalized same-gender sexual activity by adults in private in 2003.

  • Windsor v. United States that declared part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in 2013-JUN and allowed some married same-sex couples to obtain federal marriage benefits.

He commented that the three couples who attended Judge Shelby's court "... have relationships that are loving, faithful, and bound by ties of caring and mutual support, representing the best qualities traditional marriage has to offer. These people have built those relationships themselves, sometimes over decades and with scant support from the larger community. They want only the same legal protections afforded to heterosexual couples."

He first met couples like these three in the church that he goes to. It is a liberal Christian church who values relationsips of same-sex couples and marries them in those states where it is legal. He concludes:

"In so doing, we promise to support them in their lives together.

For Utahns who are lamenting the legality of same-sex marriage, please take a deep breath. Neither the Constitution nor the scriptures have changed."

We recommend reading the full article on the Salt Lake Tribune web site. 6

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Order denying emergency motion for stay and temporary motion for stay," United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, 2013-DEC-24, at:
  2. Joanna Brooks, "Boy Scouts, Gay Marriage, & Pizza," Religion Dispatches, 2013-DEC-23, at:
  3. Lisa Riley Roche & Emiley Morgan, "Utah's request delayed for stay on same-sex marriage ruling from Supreme Court," Deseret News, 2013-DEC-26, at:
  4. "Another court defeat for Utah on gay marriage," Washington Post, 3023-DEC-24, at:
  5. Brooke Adams, "Utah seeks outside help in request for gay-marriage stay," The Salt Lake Tribune, 2013-DEC-26, at:
  6. Rick I. Knuth, "Op-ed: Take a deep breath, gay marriage opponents," Salt Lake Tribune, 2013-DEC-13, at:

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-DEC-22
Latest update: 2014-JAN-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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