December 27, 2013
All of Utah’s 29 counties are now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a victory for marriage equality advocates as a district court judge’s decision invalidating the state’s ban on equal marriage rights makes its way through the appellate courts. The AP reports:
The last of the Utah counties that were holding out on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples reversed course Thursday and decided to hand out licenses to all eligible applicants.
Officials for the four holdouts — Box Elder, Utah, Piute and San Juan counties — told The Associated Press they made the decision to offer licenses to same-sex couples.
San Juan County Clerk Norman Johnson said “what finalized it for me” was Gov. Gary Herbert’s order to state agencies to comply with Shelby’s decision and change procedures for the delivery of state services. To that end, the Utah Department of Workforce Services is recognizing gay couples for food stamp and welfare benefits.
For Johnson, Herbert’s directive was the “final straw,” together with a refusal Tuesday by the Denver-based appeals court to stay Shelby’s decision pending an appeal from state lawyers.
County clerks refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples could have been held in contempt of federal court if they had not chosen to heed the judge’s order.
Yesterday, the Utah Attorney General’s office told FOX 13 that it would not file an emergency stay request of the district court ruling with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor–who handles requests out of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals–“for a few days.”
“The attorney general’s office is working to prepare the appeal to the Supreme Court on the 10th Circuit’s denial of a stay. Due to the necessity of coordination with outside counsel the filing of the appeal may be delayed for a few days,” Ryan Bruckman, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, told FOX 13’s Ben Winslow. “It is the intent of the AG’s office to file with the Supreme Court as soon as possible.”
Until a stay is issued by the high court–which indeed it may not be–same-sex couples will continue to be allowed to wed in Utah.
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