Who didn’t see this coming?
Following a surprise ruling that led to same-sex marriage being legalized in the state of Utah on December 20th, the Supreme Court has now put a hold on any new unions. A federal appeals court is expected to weigh the legality of the matter and make a final ruling on gay marriage in the state. The decision comes more than two weeks after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that Utah’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.
Since then, over 900 gay couples were married.
Such unions were brought to a screeching halt by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is giving the state a chance to plead its case in Denver’s 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The federal court will hear the state’s case and decide whether to uphold Shelby’s ruling or the state’s ban on gay marriages. It should be noted that the court has previously rejected pleas from the state to hear its complaints regarding same-sex marriage. Will the third time be the charm?
Another question is what happens to the hundreds of people legally married after the ruling was made should it be overturned. Will their marriages no longer be recognized or will the ruling apply to all possible same-sex marriages after the fact?
It should be noted that Utah used a loophole to get their case heard provided by the Supreme Court’s ruling on the now defunct “Defense of Marriage Act”. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, stated that marriage laws were “a matter for the states”.
If the ruling is upheld, the improbable Utah will be the 18th state to legalize same-sex marriages. Given the state’s notoriously socially conservative leanings, this will likely not sit well with a number of Utahans. It’s also doubtful that such a ruling would be the end of opposition efforts.
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