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Utah Appeals Judge's Ruling Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages


Two and a half weeks after a federal judge ordered the state of Utah to recognize the 1,300 same-sex marriages performed in Dec. and Jan., the state has announced its plan to appeal the ruling.

On Wednesday, Gov. Gary Herbert and State Attorney General Sean Reyes filed a notice of appeal in federal court saying they would challenge U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball’s May 19 ruling.

The ruling gave the state three weeks to appeal the decision, which would have gone into effect on Monday. In his ruling, Kimball said the state had placed the couples married during the 17-day period in “legal limbo with respect to adoptions, child care and custody, medical decisions,” and other rights associated with marriage.

Spokesperson Marty Carpenter read a statement from the Governer’s Office saying the state is looking to the courts for a decision.

"The governor has worked closely with the attorney general in analyzing all options. With so many cases stemming from the same legal questions, it is important that clarity and finality are provided by the highest courts," Carpenter read.

The plaintiff’s attorney in the case, ACLU of Utah Legal Director John Mejia, said if the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decides to grant the state’s stay before Sunday, Judge Kimball’s order will not go into effect. If, however, the court does not grant the stay, or does not grant it by Sunday, the order will go into effect and the state will have to start recognizing the marriages.

Either way, Mejia said he is disappointed by the state’s decision.

“We think that Judge Kimball’s ruling was very well reasoned and thorough and doesn’t contain any sort of errors that would be worthy of making an appeal over,” Mejia said. “The fact of the matter is that there are married couples who have valid marriages with vested rights and the more delay and legal proceedings that take place, the longer that they have to wait before their marriages will be recognized and their lives as families can continue.”

The state’s appeal comes as Utah awaits a decision by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on the original case challenging the ban.