What's happening is the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is basically saying it will no longer keep same sex marriages in Utah on hold while the legal battle rolls on. It's by no means puts a final stamp on gay marriage in Utah, but it is a blow to Utah's case, and win for advocates of same sex marriage.
Same sex couples in Utah are claiming victory.
"It's a nice gift on a Friday night," said Steven Ha, Executive Director of the Utah Pride Center.
"It's tough to get really excited yet but we're pretty hopeful right now," said Lindi & Joanna Barney, legally married same sex couple.
On Friday the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the State's request to for a permanent stay on same sex marriages performed in Utah during the brief time it was legal. The State wanted the 10th Circuit to keep those marriages on hold while it appeals a lower court's ruling requiring Utah to recognize them, but Friday the 10th Circuit said no.
"We conclude that appellants have not made showing sufficient to warrant a stay pending appeal," said Justices Kelly, Lucero and Holmes, Circuit Judges.
That means in 10 days unless the State appeals this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, Utah will be forced to recognize those marriages while the legal case plays out.
In response to Friday's ruling, the Utah Attorney General's Office said –
"In response to the United States Court of Appeal for the Tenth Circuit denial of stay in Evans v. Utah, the State is prepared to file an Application for Stay before the United States Supreme Court in the coming days to avoid uncertainty, as noted by the dissenting Judge on the Tenth Circuit. The State recognizes that pending cases regarding same-sex marriage in Utah impact the lives of many individuals and families and is diligently seeking uniform certainty through proper and orderly legal processes until Kitchen v Herbert is resolved," said Missy Larson, Chief Communications Officer, Utah Attorney General.
One of those families seeking certainty is Joanna and Lindi Barney. They married in Utah during the legal window. They're hopeful rulings like Friday keep coming their way.
"To do that and be validated by our state and be recognized by our state that you are as legit as anybody else is a big deal to us," said Barney.
It's important to note Friday's court decision is not a ruling on the validity of those marriages. The case as a whole still has to go through the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and that's still months away.
As for what happened Friday, Utah has until July 21st to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to override the 10th Circuit decision.
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