Quick Primer: Where (and What) Are The Same-Sex Marriage Cases in Utah

Scales_of_justiceFor those trying to keep track of where all the same-sex marriage cases are in the process, it can get really confusing. Here’s a quick recap and primer of what the different cases are and where they’re at:

Kitchen v. Herbert

This is the main case over the validity of Utah’s Amendment 3, the 2004 constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage (and civil unions) in Utah.

The law was struck down in December of 2013 by district judge Robert Shelby, who ruled that barring certain citizens from their right to get married was unconstitutional. The Utah Attorney General’s office failed to put in a request for the decision to be stayed if the judge ruled against them, so the ruling took effect immediately and over the next 17 days, nearly 1,300 packed county clerk offices across the state and were legally wed. Eventually, the AG’s office did request the stay, but Judge Shelby denied it as many couples had already been married. The state then asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to put a stay on the ruling, but that court also denied the request. Utah then went to the US Supreme Court, who granted the temporary stay (17 days after the initial ruling), which put a halt to any future marriages while Utah appealed Judge Shelby’s request up to the 10th Circuit Court.

The state and the plaintiffs argued their case before the 10th Circuit earlier this year, and the ruling is expected to be handed down any day.

Possible Outcomes:

The 10th Circuit could either uphold Judge Shelby’s ruling that Amendment 3 was unconstitutional, or they could overturn the decision. Either way, it is expected that either the state of Utah or the plaintiffs will appeal their decision up to the Supreme Court. It is commonly anticipated that the 10 Circuit will rule 2 to 1 in favor of Judge Shelby’s ruling (aka, in favor of same-sex marriage).

Evans v. Herbert – The ACLU’s Lawsuit:

The second case moving forward right now is being brought by the Utah ACLU on behalf of the 1,300 legally wed same-sex couples. The state of Utah has refused to recognize their marriages, arguing that it shouldn’t have to recognize them until the appeal of the Amendment 3 case has concluded. The case began when the Utah Department of Health, acting on orders from the Utah Attorney General’s office, stopped adoptions by several of the newly-married couples which had already been approved by other Utah judges.

Last month, district court judge Dale Kimball ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and ordered the state of Utah to grant the couples all benefits of marriage, as their marriages had been legally performed following Judge Shelby’s ruling. No stay was put in place, but Judge Kimball delayed his ruling from going into effect for 21 days, to give the state time to decide whether or not they would appeal.

Utah used up almost the entire 21 days before announcing that they would be appealing, and Attorney General Sean Reyes filed with the 10th Circuit, requesting that they put a temporary stay on Judge Kimball’s ruling while the appeal (and a request for a permanent stay) moves forward. The 10th Circuit granted the temporary stay. The Utah ACLU last week filed their own motion with the 10th Circuit, asking that the stay be lifted. Then, this morning, Utah filed another motion, telling the 10th Circuit that if they drop the stay, Utah intends to go to the Supreme Court to ask for the stay to be put back into place.

A ruling from the 10th Circuit on the stay could come as early as today.

The Scribd.com account Equality Case Files has posted all of the briefs in both cases, if you’d like to see them.

Originally published on NuanceStillMatters.com

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