A federal judge has ruled that same sex marriage can continue in the state of Utah. He overturned Amendment 3 in the state’s laws last week, which meant that many lesbian and gay couples headed for marriage licences.
However, the controversial ruling led to the state requesting a stay. Judge Robert J. Shelby heard the arguments for an hour on Monday morning, before deciding that the his decision had to remain in place.
The state attorneys argued that if the decision was changed, those who married could be irreparably harmed if the marriages then became invalid. After the ruling, more couples headed to the clerk’s offices for a marriage license.
While the attorneys and judge were in court, some clerk’s offices decided not to issue the licenses to couples. Their decision was justified by waiting for the decision from Judge Shelby over whether he would change his mind on the same sex marriage law.
Arguments for the stay involved the fact that the decision was a surprise. It also disrupts the status quo in Utah. Assistant Utah Attorney General Philip Lott explained that if the decision is overturned at a later date, many of the licences obtained would become invalid. The state is planning to appeal the decision. It has led to some uncertainty over same sex marriage.
Peggy Tomsic, representation for same sex couples, argued that the state had not brought any fresh arguments. Those arguments did not stop Shelby from making the decision, so argued that they should not now as they ask for a stay.
For now, same sex marriage will continue in Utah, according to the federal judge. Clerk’s offices are free to issue the licenses, which about 40 of them were issued before 10 am on Monday.
By Alexandria Ingham
The Salt Lake Tribune