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Utah AG seeks to halt adoptions from same-sex couples

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) -- The Utah Attorney General's Office suit against judges who granted adoptions to married Utah same-sex couples has put those cases in limbo.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) -- The Utah Attorney General's Office filed appeals to asking to halt the orders of judges who granted adoptions for some of the same-sex couples who were married in Utah after a federal judge declared the state's ban on such marriages unconstitutional.

The writs were filed Wednesday on behalf of the Utah Department of Health and petitions the Utah Supreme Court for "emergency provisional relief" from the judges' orders to recognize various same-sex couples as parents on children's birth certificates.

In court filings, Attorney General Sean Reyes' office asks for relief from the judge's orders "until such time as the Court can fully consider the Department of Health's Petition for Extraordinary Relief."

In a statement released Wednesday, the gay rights organization Equality Utah said the suits would keep the couples from adopting their own children. Equality Utah's statement highlighted Kimberly and Amber Leary, who were one of the couples married during the 16-day window between Utah's ban on same-sex marriage being struck down and a stay on the ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court that put a halt to same-sex marriages.

Although the couple got a judge to order a new birth certificate for the child that listed them as parents, the Utah Office of Vital Records denied their request and they were turned away Wednesday. Equality Utah said the office denied the certificate under orders from the AG's office.

"This is unheard of and very disappointing," Brandie Balken of Equality Utah said in the statement. "The state is asking the Utah Supreme Court to tell them they don't have to follow the orders of judges who have granted adoptions. Enabling all children to become part of permanent lifelong families should be a defining goal of our state."

The Attorney General's Office released a statement Wednesday afternoon that says the Department of Health was seeking clarification from Utah appellate courts because the judges' orders conflict with Utah law, which prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex marriages.

"The Department (of Health) is not 'suing' judges," the statement reads. "Rather, the Department has filed a petition asking Utah's appellate courts to determine whether the judge in this case correctly applied the law."

The statement also says that the families whose adoptions are affected by the appeal are not required to file any response. That responsibility falls on the judges named in the suit.
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