United States Supreme Court issues stay in Utah marriage ruling

On January 6, 2013, the United States Supreme Court granted a request for a stay in the December 2013 marriage ruling in Utah that established the freedom to marry across the state. The ruling will be stayed - meaning that same-sex couples in Utah will be temporarily unable to receive marriage licenses - pending the state's appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The decision from the Supreme Court this morning pauses the December 20, 2013 ruling in Kitchen v. Herbert, where U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby found that laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying in Utah are unconstitutional, conflicting with the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law. The ruling took effect immediately, and same-sex couples began marrying that afternoon. 

The state's appeal of the ruling is currently being fast-tracked, with opening briefs due on January 27 and all briefs in the case due to be filed before February 25. Oral arguments in the case could be heard by the middle of March, although a date has not been scheduled. 

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson issued a statement today about the decision. He said:

While every day’s denial of the freedom to marry hurts, today’s decision by the Supreme Court to grant a stay in Utah is just a temporary pause in the work to win marriage for all loving and committed same-sex couples in the state. As the case makes its way up the ladder, we must continue to do the work of having conversations about why marriage matters, engaging both gay and non-gay people, and preparing for when the Supreme Court does take up the next case that will bring national resolution.

About 1,000 same-sex couples have legally married in Utah in the past few weeks; and their friends, neighbors, and elected officials will now see that marriage betters their lives and hurts no one. Being married allows a committed couple to protect each other and their family, and gives respect to their commitment under law.

It’s crucial to use the momentum we gained in 2013 for the freedom to marry in the new year to show that allowing same-sex couples to share in the joy of marriage in Utah – and everywhere – is the right thing to do.

As we have in other states, Freedom to Marry will continue to work with local and state partner organizations to educate the public and amplify support for the freedom to marry across the state of Utah. The work to win in Utah is one element of the Roadmap to Victory, Freedom to Marry's three-prong strategy for winning marriage for same-sex couples across the country. Our goal is to tee up victory in the Supreme Court and win the freedom to marry nationwide by creating the necessary climate to empower the U.S. Supreme Court to stand on the right side of history. Read more about the Roadmap to Victory HERE. 

Freedom to Marry profiled two of the many amazing couples who live in Utah and are working to raise their families. Read the stories of Spencer & Dustin and Jo & Lindi

And learn more about Kitchen v. Herbert HERE