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 to put that ruling on hold, while it appeals the decision. After Shelby and then the full 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.
Now, the case is before the full Tenth Circuit, which will weigh an appeal of Shelby's decision, which declared Utah's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
Here's the text of today's ruling:
The application for stay presented to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court is granted. The permanent injunction issued by the United States District Court for the District of Utah, case No. 2:13-cv-217, on December 20, 2013, is stayed pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
And here's some insight from Lyle Denniston on SCOTUSblog:
The order appeared to have the support of the full Court, since there were no noted dissents. 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.
Since the Monday order provided no explanation, it was not clear which of the arguments made by state officials had been convincing to the Justices. The state had argued, among other things, that U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s decision nullifying Utah’s ban had preempted the power of the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter on that question. The state also had contended that its interest in enforcing its ban would have been undercut by a refusing of a stay. And it had said that it would be difficult to untangle marriages that had occurred in the meantime, if the ban were ultimately upheld in the courts.