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Federal judge orders Utah to recognize legally performed same-sex marriages

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utahA federal judge in Utah has issued a preliminary injunction requiring state officials to recognize the legally-performed marriages of same-sex couples in the state before the Supreme Court issued its stay.

The order is here. If that link doesn’t work, you can read it at Scribd, via Kathleen Perrin and Equality Case Files.

The ACLU reports:

A federal judge ordered the state today to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally married in Utah after a federal court struck down a state ban, but before the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted additional marriages from taking place. Over 1,000 same-sex couples married in Utah during that time period. The couples are represented by American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Utah, and Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC, who sought the preliminary injunction for the marriages to be recognized while their lawsuit continues.

“Our clients, like over 1,000 other same-sex couples, were legally married and those marriages cannot now be taken away from them,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. “While we await a permanent decision, we are relieved that our clients will receive the full recognition they deserve as lawfully married couples.”

Today’s preliminary injunction is not a permanent order, but it reflects the court’s determination that the plaintiffs’ are likely to prevail on their legal claims and would suffer irreparable harm if their marriages were stripped of recognition. Today’s order was given a 21-day stay to allow the state to respond.

The separate challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, Kitchen v. Herbert, is still on appeal to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Arguments were heard in early April, and the three-judge panel is working on a decision on the merits.

This case is Evans v. Utah.

UPDATE 8:19PM ET: The Utah Attorney General’s Office has issued an emailed statement: “From Attorney General Sean D. Reyes:

“The Attorney General’s Office has not made an immediate determination about whether it will appeal Judge Kimball’s ruling. According to the Court, this decision directly relates to the same-sex marriages that took place within the 17-day window and not the ultimate legal questions in Kitchen vs. Herbert. We are currently assessing the legal impact of today’s decision and will respond within the 21-day allotted time period.””


  • 1. TKinSC  |  May 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Oh, great. Now what? What does this mean for me?

  • 2. TKinSC  |  May 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    There's just too much of this stuff happening today to keep up with.

  • 3. davep  |  May 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    If you are not one of the 1000 Utah couples who legally married between the ruling that overturned the ban, and the subsequent decision by the state to not recognize those marriages until the appeals process is completed, it doesn't mean anything that directly affects you.

  • 4. davep  |  May 19, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Don't worry TK, it's all good.

  • 5. TKinSC  |  May 19, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks approved Dave. I'll pay a little less attention to this one then.

  • 6. Ragavendran  |  May 19, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Utah couldn't fool Judge Kimball, in asking him to certify questions to the Utah Supreme Court:

    "Unlike Plaintiffs who seek certification in order to obtain favorable rulings from both courts, the State seeks to begin the process anew in a different forum from the one it chose. The court agrees with Plaintiffs that the State’s late-filed motion to certify, asserting a nearly identical question to those posed by Plaintiffs, appears to be a delay tactic."

  • 7. Ragavendran  |  May 19, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Also, Judge Kimball denied a stay pending appeal and only granted a temporary stay, noting:

    "The court concludes that the State has not met its burden of establishing the factors required for a stay pending appeal. In its discretion, however, the court grants the State a limited 21-day stay during which it may pursue an emergency motion to stay with the Tenth Circuit. The court recognizes the irreparable harms facing Plaintiffs every day. However, the court finds some benefit in allowing the Tenth Circuit’s to review whether to stay the injunction prior to implementation of the injunction. Therefore, notwithstanding the many factors weighing against a stay, the court, in its discretion, grants the State a temporary 21-day stay."

  • 8. TKinSC  |  May 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    I remember this one now. It's the one Zach12 thought could go against LGBTs, because the judge, Dale A. Kimball, is Mormon. But it didn't. Unless I have it confused with something else he thought could go against LGBTs.

  • 9. Lance  |  May 19, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Pretty much the logic for all the other stays granted. Nice to see it spelled out. He didn't elaborate on the "benefit in allowing the tenth circuit to review" but still the rest of it was nice to see.

  • 10. Steven  |  May 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    now Utah Supreme Court stepped in DEEP Sh&&t on Friday. If 10th Circuit of Appeals denied the stay the state must answer the judge's contempt charges

  • 11. palerobber  |  May 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    fwiw, the judge in this case is LDS, graduate of BYU (though not BYU Law), and has held high office in the church.

  • 12. Eric  |  May 19, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Hence the continued denial of the plaintiffs substantive due process rights for an additional 21-days.

  • 13. KarlS  |  May 19, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    It's too bad not all judges have functional bullshit detectors like Kimball does.

  • 14. Ragavendran  |  May 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    This is a fantastic, robustly well-reasoned opinion. I just finished reading it fully. Aside from the anomaly in granting a 21-day "mercy" stay, I applaud Judge Kimball for a thorough discussion of the complicated issues involving State and Federal laws, organizing those concerns in a readable layout.

    It should be remembered that just like Kitchen began the string of favorable rulings post-Windsor for striking down state marriage bans, this case, Evans will serve to be an important non-binding precedent for similar cases that have arisen / will arise in Michigan and Arkansas. Judge Kimball took his sweet time, but delivered in the end. I will rescind some (but not all) of my repeated criticism on his tardiness in issuing the preliminary injunction in this case. He has indicated the possibility of a trial in this case, so the final disposition could take several more months, which makes the timely issuance of a preliminary injunction all the more important.

  • 15. Lance  |  May 19, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    PA Wolf/Judge Jones ruling expected tomorrow.

  • 16. Mike in Baltimore  |  May 19, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Since you sign in to this site as "TKinSC", one has to presume that you live in (are a resident of) South Carolina. As such, this ruling has zero effect on you, unless you are in a same gender marriage that was promulgated in Utah after the initial court ruling, but before SCOTUS issued a stay on that ruling.

    Since everyone but you would have to guess at some of the points, it looks like only you can answer the question as to whether it applies to you or not.

  • 17. Guest  |  May 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Every day something to look forward to!

  • 18. Lance  |  May 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    This one will be juicy reading after his decimation of the creationists in an earlier decision. He has a low threshold for stupidity and BS which is what the State's arguments are I;'m sure. I bet he couldn't wait to write the opinion – only took him a week.

  • 19. Bruno71  |  May 19, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Hope you're right. He is a Republican appointee, but of course the famous intelligent design ruling was strong in the face of the right-wing evangelicals who want to turn our public schools into Christian bible programs.

  • 20. ebohlman  |  May 19, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    In fact Judge Jones received death threats after his ruling in Kitzmiller. Not likely to make him sympathetic to any of the wilder claims from the Religious Right .

  • 21. Kevin  |  May 19, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    He's in this Nova episode:

  • 22. Kevin  |  May 19, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    He also charged a right wing witness and deponent with perjury! Haha.

  • 23. sam  |  May 19, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Yeah, I've just read it all too. As I said after the hearing I suspected he was on our side, but this is a VERY thorough dismantling of the state's arguments as well as their actions.

    This is very well timed, throughout you get the sense of the awareness of the impact on other cases. I particularly like the part where he not so subtly is pointing out to the Utah Supreme Court that state law can only enhance the protections afforded by the US constitution, not diminish it.

  • 24. Ragavendran  |  May 19, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    You are incorrect. Nobody repealed any law. The law was not reinstated retroactively by the Supreme Court when it issued its stay. It only reinstated the law as of that day and time the stay was issued. Please read the entire opinion and get your facts right.

    And by the way, for consistency, shouldn't you be putting the word marriage in double scare quotes? One pair for your bigotry and the other for Utah's.

  • 25. Seth from Maryland  |  May 19, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    lol oh man i can't wait to read his ruling tommorow lol

  • 26. Big Rick  |  May 19, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    You are completely wrong, yet again. This time about whether the marriages would be legal if the Kitchen order is stayed and/or overturned. Judge Kimball covered that very thoroughly in his order. Please, go read it. The marriages were legal under existing law at the time they were solemnized because the same-sex marriage bans were a legal nullity. The stay reinstated the bans, but they do not apply retroactively because they weren't written to be retroactive. They are prospective only, and therefore the State cannot use the reinstated bans to justify depriving the plaintiffs of their vested liberty interests in their legally solemnized marriages.

    You prove time and again by your comments that you don't bother to read the orders and decisions you comment on. You just waste everyone else's time and try their patience with your nonsensical drivel.

  • 27. Ragavendran  |  May 19, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    "You" said it "yourself". It not only prohibits its enforcement, but it becomes a legal nullity. (Yeah, look it up.) "You" don't seem to understand that term. And please cite some authoritative case law to support "your" "arguments". Judge Kimball cites case law in support and reasons well. "You" are merely "stating" "your" "opinions" with no support or reason. Basically the same as the State of Utah.

    I don't get the point though. So if "you" are "responding" to my comment in the future and want to make that "point", then one pair of "quotes" is not sufficient.

  • 28. Larry  |  May 19, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    This is very similar to what happened in California after Prop 8. The CA Supreme Court said that any marriages performed in the window between their earlier decision and Prop 8 were valid. Which also meant that any marriages performed elsewhere before November 2008 (e.g. Massachusetts, Canada) were also valid.

  • 29. Rumsey  |  May 19, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    I don't understand why you guys let TKNSC annoy you. He's losing.

  • 30. Ragavendran  |  May 19, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    I could care less what he/she/it says generally, elsewhere. But when he/she/it responds to one of my comments, I find it hard to ignore him/her/it, because it's personal, so I respond when I'm not strong enough to suppress the urge. (Yes, I'm weak at times and get emotional, and take way too many things way too personally, even though I know I shouldn't. That seems to be my curse.)

  • 31. Blimpie  |  May 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    There are some VSPs (Very Serious Persons) in this forum. If they can't lighten up when their side is doing so well, when can they? Who cannot see how silly this TK person is?

    I have two visions of this TK person: One is they are the mouse that's batted around by a cat. You know how it's going to end, but it's a long, painful thing to watch.

    The other is that they are Pig-Penfrom Snoopy. Everyone knows he stinks except himself. They all run to the other side of the room and he can't even see the stench cloud above him, and doesn't know why they're running. He's got zero self-awareness.

  • 32. Lynn E  |  May 20, 2014 at 1:17 am

    He certainly took his time in ruling, however, in his defense, there have been cases in the State courts that shed light on aspects of this case. Judge Kimball wisely incorporated some of these decisions in his ruling. Hopefully, we get a decision soon from the 10th Circuit.

  • 33. SeattleRobin  |  May 20, 2014 at 2:03 am

    Yeah, I was really pleased to see that all spelled out too. It makes the pill easier to swallow when everything is explained and makes it obvious everything the judge takes into account to make the decision.

  • 34. Deeelaaach  |  May 20, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Thank you Kevin, I think I'm going to watch this!

  • 35. grod  |  May 20, 2014 at 2:34 am

    Footnote 5 on the same page [33] – calls it gamesmanship. It is also gamesmanship that by Monday evening, the governor and attorney general seemed undecided as to Utah’s next course of action. "The Attorney General’s Office has not made an immediate determination about whether it will appeal Judge Kimball’s ruling," spokesperson wrote in a statement from the AG. "We are currently assessing the legal impact of today’s decision and will respond within the 21-day allotted time period." What is the process by which Kelly, Lucero and Holmes are made aware of this decision. The hypocrisy of Herbert and Reyes. What impact with this decision have on the Utah Supreme Court plan to hear a case of several district court judges issuing adoption orders on behalf of same sex couples? How does it get to the Supremes? Is there any potential impact on the Supremes' recent stay of a judge order that officials appear before the court to address why they have not carried out his order to issue a birth certificate listing both parents?.

  • 36. SeattleRobin  |  May 20, 2014 at 4:57 am

    Thanks for the link. I had watched that program about a year ago, but it was interesting to revisit it in light of current cases.

    I read the transcript this time and noticed an interesting parallel. The defense in that intelligent design case seemed to run into a similar problem as in our cases. That being that they have a limited pool of expert witnesses to draw on, that of the ones they do find most end up not testifying, and the ones who do testify end up getting gutted on the witness stand. The latter of course then dramatically reduces any value they might have as expert witnesses in future cases.

  • 37. FredPA  |  May 20, 2014 at 6:37 am

    Yes! Enough already! Everyone… PLEASE… Ignore the troll!

  • 38. Ragavendran  |  May 20, 2014 at 7:05 am

    The Utah Supreme Court can be made aware of this ruling through briefs (a briefing schedule hasn't been set yet, I think) or a letter to the Court. The Plaintiffs in Kitchen could file a notice of supplemental authority with the Tenth Circuit, notifying the panel about the outcome of this case, but I'm not sure if that'll be allowed, because this case is different from the constitutionality of their marriage ban.

  • 39. JayJonson  |  May 20, 2014 at 7:06 am

    I suspect that Judge Kimball is aware that he bears a particular burden as a Mormon. Many people doubt that Mormons are able to separate their professional duties from their religious beliefs, and even from religious direction by the LDS church. Judge Smith on the Ninth Circuit certainly did not distinguish himself as a member of the Perry panel. Perhaps Kimball (who is now too old for elevation to an appellate bench himself) wants to reassure critics that he is able to uphold the Constitution so that eventually a Mormon can be appointed to the Supreme Court. There used to be speculation that Orren Hatch aspired to a seat on SCOTUS, but he is also now too old.

  • 40. FilbertB  |  May 20, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Well, I think you are wonderful. I appreciate your informed commentary very much. You certainly have my (and i am sure many others) sincere appreciation for all the excellent work you do.

  • 41. Ragavendran  |  May 20, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Thank you, Filbert!

  • 42. Corey from Maryland  |  May 20, 2014 at 8:06 am

    Try ignoring it each time. You will notice that it gets alot easier as you go along…

  • 43. Michael Grabow  |  May 20, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I would hope you couldn't care at all…

  • 44. Steve  |  May 20, 2014 at 8:40 am

    They have to consult with the Mormon cult first.

  • 45. palerobber  |  May 20, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    …also a Clinton appointee, so not your average Mormon elite.

  • 46. palerobber  |  May 20, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    in considering whether a preliminary injunction in this case would be categorized as "disfavored" by the 10th Circuit, the judge considers whether an injuction would affirmatively require something needing the court's supervision to ensure compliance with…..

    "The State’s position is that it is required by Utah law to apply Utah’s marriage bans to all same-sex marriages until a court decides the issue. The Directive that went to Governor Herbert’s cabinet stated that the “legal status” of the same-sex marriages that took place before the Supreme Court stay was “for the courts to decide.” And Attorney General Reyes recognized that the validity of the marriages in question must ultimately be decided by the legal process. Based on the State’s compliance with the injunction in Kitchen prior to the Supreme Court’s Stay Order, there is no basis for assuming that the State would need supervision in implementing an order from this court recognizing the same-sex marriages."

  • 47. palerobber  |  May 20, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    i find the above pasage interesting because i'd give the State's compliance with Kitchen prior to the SCOTUS stay about a D+.

    so what's going on here?

    is the judge using a little phychological conditioning here in telling the state how good they were at respecting the court? or is this a backhanded slap, over-praising their past compliance by way of reaching a decision that this injuction would not be "disfavored" (an outcome the state would not like)?

  • 48. Big Rick  |  May 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    The State of Utah did comply with Shelby's order. They bungled their requests for a stay and got denied a few times, but there were no instances of county clerks failing to issue marriage licenses. The State also delivered the marriage certificates, even after the stay was put in place. It was after that point that the State started playing dirty by putting the marriages "on hold" and refusing to recognize the couples vested rights in their marriages. So I think the Judge was just being factual there, recognizing that the State followed Shelby's order during the period that established the "status quo" of the State's and the married couple's relationship during that period.

  • 49. palerobber  |  May 20, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    i often find people's responses to TKNSC illuminating, so i'm glad that Ragavendran responded.

  • 50. Equality On TrialUtah off&hellip  |  June 5, 2014 at 10:12 am

    […] officials have announced in a filing that they will appeal a federal district court judge’s order that required the state to recognize same-sex marriages that were legally performed before the Supreme Court […]

  • 51. Equality On TrialMarriage&hellip  |  July 11, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    […] panel that heard and decided Kitchen v. Herbert declined to stay the district court’s order in Evans v. Utah, the case involving same-sex marriages that were performed in Utah before the Supreme Court issued […]

  • 52. Equality On TrialThis sum&hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 1:29 am

    […] in the Tenth Circuit, an appeal from a district court’s order in another Utah case, Evans v. Utah, will be reviewed. This case involves same-sex marriages that […]

  • 53. Equality On TrialMore tim&hellip  |  August 19, 2014 at 9:48 am

    […] were performed before the Supreme Court’s stay in Kitchen v. Herbert. A district court judge ruled in favor of the couples, and the state appealed the case to the Tenth […]

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