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State granted stay from 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, doesn't have to recognize same-sex marriages for now

SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – The state of Utah asked for a stay in the ongoing court battle over same-sex marriage and it was granted within a matter of hours.
SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC 4 Utah) – The state of Utah asked for a stay in the ongoing court battle over same-sex marriage and it was granted within a matter of hours.

On May 19, 2014 Federal Judge, Dale Kimball told the state it must recognize the same-sex marriages performed during the 17 day window it was allowed.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay on that ruling, so for the time being the state will not have to recognize those marriages.

That includes the benefits that come along with marriage.

The Attorney General's Office believes it would have been premature to accept that ruling while other cases on same-sex marriage work through the courts.

The ruling stems from Evans v Utah, four same-sex couples demanding their marriages be recognized by the state.

"Interim marriages, if you will at issue in the Evans case are intrinsically tied up with the Kitchen case, so it wouldn't be consistent to not appeal the Evans case as well," said Assistant Attorney General , Joni Jones.

The governor has been working with the attorney general to consider all the options.

His office released a statement today along the same lines.

"With so many cases stemming from the same legal questions, it is important that clarity and finality are provided by the highest courts," said Spokesman, Marty Carpenter.

John Mejia with the ACLU of Utah is representing the four couples in Evans.

He disagrees with the state's reasoning.

He believes Evans stands alone from Kitchen v Herbert, seeking to overturn Utah's Amendment 3.

"Judge Kimball said that they have to be recognized and that no matter what happens in Kitchen, these are marriages with vested rights," said Mejia.

Judge Kimball automatically issued a temporary stay on his ruling in May.

It would have expired on Monday, but now it will remain in place.

Plaintiff’s are disappointed, but remain optimistic as they vow to fight on.

"Judge Kimball gave them every chance to put their best arguments forward and did not accept a single argument the state made," said Mejia.

Same-sex marriage advocates think it's a waste of time and money.

"We can't believe the state is continuing to defend discrimination and persecute Utah families. Judges across the country and two local judges have said the same thing, discrimination is wrong," said Jesse Nix, from the Utah Pride Board of Directors.

The AG’s office insists it's not personal. It's their job to defend the law of Utah.

They aren't so sure the highest court in the land will go the way of several federal judges, citing the Windsor opinion with a fairly close split on the court.

"I think most people anticipate that the decision is going to be a five-four decision and it's hard to determine which way it's going to go," said Jones.

That's the only way it will be settled once and for all.

The 10th Circuit is still considering the Kitchen case as well, that opinion could be published any day now.

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