Gay Marriage in Utah (for now)

Developments on same-sex marriage defy the Yuletide blogger’s ability to keep up. Last Thursday the New Mexico Supreme Court recognized a right of same-sex couples to marry under the state constitution.  The next day, the federal district court in Utah issued a decision declaring that the state may not keep gay couples from marrying there.  See a round-up of Friday’s developments in Utah, including the judge’s decision, here.  Ever since, same-sex couples have been lining up in winter conditions at marriage license offices in Salt Lake City and around the state.  Some obtained licenses on Friday, while others were disappointed to find they could not get them over the weekend.  This morning they are lining up again as the offices open at 8:00 a.m. (Mountain time, 10:00 a.m. Eastern).

Meanwhile, legal maneuvers proceed at a fast and anxious pace.  The judge made his decision effective immediately.  The state sought an emergency stay of the decision, but before the district court ruled on it, the state sought an extraordinary interim emergency stay from the 10th Circuit pending the district court’s decision on its request for stay.  Over the weekend, the 10th Circuit denied the interim request, essentially telling the state there was no mechanism in the federal rules for it.  (UPDATE: A second request for stay in the Tenth Circuit was also denied.  Thanks to commenter JHW27 for the info.)  So the state is back in the district court this morning to have its emergency stay request heard.  The hearing begins at 9 a.m. (Mountain), and the judge can be expected to rule quickly, perhaps at the end of the hearing or later today.  If he does not grant the stay, the state will be back in the 10th Circuit seeking a stay from the appeals court.

For gay couples it’s now a race with the courthouse for marriages.  Stand by for further developments today.

And by the way, happy birthday to Joseph Smith.

UPDATE:  Judge Shelby denied the stay.  The state is headed back to the 10th Circuit, which has asked for a response from the plaintiffs by 5 p.m. (Mountain).  The appeals court will act quickly, perhaps even tonight.  Meanwhile, several counties in Utah are still refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  You can watch live coverage of what’s happening in Utah here.