Utah will ask judge to stay own ruling on same-sex marriage Monday

Utah will ask a federal judge to stay his own ruling legalizing same-sex marriages in that state Monday after a federal appeals court rejected an emergency stay request from state officials.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver denied the motion Sunday on the grounds that the request was not for a stay pending appeal, but rather a stay pending a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby. Therefore, the motion did not meet the circuit court's criteria for a stay.  The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Shelby has scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. Monday to consider the state's request.

On Friday, Shelby ruled that Utah's Constitutional Amendment 3, which defined marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The amendment was passed by a margin of roughly 2-to-1 in the 2004 election.

Shelby's decision made same-sex marriage immediately legal in Utah, and an estimated 100 marriage licenses were issued on Friday to same-sex couples.

The state plans to argue Monday that they wish to avoid placing a "cloud of uncertainty" around same-sex couples whose marriages may be later invalidated.

"The only potential harm plaintiffs may suffer if a stay is granted is, at most, a delay in their ability to marry in Utah or, in the case of an out-of-state marriage, recognition of that marriage," the state's motion says, in part. "Granting the stay simply preserves the status quo." The state will ask Shelby to follow the example of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2012 granted a stay of its own ruling that California's Proposition 8 was unconstitutional while opponents of same-sex marriage appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

Supporters of same-sex marriage say that a stay would harm same-sex couples who want to marry, but haven't yet had a chance to. They also say that state officials have not shown how the state would be harmed in any meaningful way if Shelby's original ruling remains in effect.

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