Utah governor’s request for halt of same-sex marriages is denied

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Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert’s request to halt the lifting of the same-sex marriage ban was denied on Monday, December 23.

On Friday, December 20, Utah federal judge Richard Shelby struck down the ban on same-sex marriage, calling it unconstitutional. Upon this ruling, hundreds of gay couples ran to the clerk’s office to exercise their right to matrimony.

Herbert responded by requesting an Emergency Motion for Temporary Stay, which would halt any changes resulting from the court’s ruling while the court appeal took place.

The governor claimed that the legalization of gay marriage “created a chaotic situation in our state,” and as such he was calling for an “expedited judicial resolution,” as reported by KUTV.

Acting Attorney General Brian Tarbet further reiterated the governor’s message.

“We are vigorously pursuing the appeal and we intend to bring a Motion to Stay before Judge Shelby at 9:00 AM Monday morning,” Tarbet said. “If he declines to rule at that time, we have petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals…for a temporary stay pending Judge Shelby’s decision.”

As indicated by the court documents, the request read as follows: “The Defendants-Appellants ask this court to stay the district court’s order pending the district court’s ruling on a motion for stay pending appeal that is currently pending in that court.”

On December 23, US District Court Judge Richard Shelby (who was responsible for overturning the ban) rejected Herbert’s request for a Temporary Stay.

Reports indicate that the US 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Temporary Stay on the basis that the request did not meet the necessary requirements needed for such demands. The denial withstood from prejudice but rejected the motion only on the basis that the request was lacking.

Utah’s lift on same-sex marriage caused controversy in this typically conservative state and many politicians and organizations spoke out against the ruling. However, their efforts were unsuccessful, as the lift on same-sex marriage still remains in Utah.

Regardless, gay rights advocates are encouraging same-sex couples to go get married while they can, as the appeal is still scheduled to occur.

“Worst case scenario we will only have 1 hour in which marriages can be performed by the respective county clerks,” Equality Utah stated at one point on their Facebook page, according to fox13now.

Equality Utah also noted that the “county clerks would be open and ready to marry people ‘exactly 8am,’” advising couples to fill out their marriage applications before heading to the court to help speed up the process.

However, in a possible act of defiance, the Cache County Utah Clerk’s office closed its doors on Monday, preventing anyone – gay or straight – from obtaining marriage licenses. Although the county office has not overtly stated that their closure was an act of resistance, they do reference the court’s liberal ruling as reasoning behind their absence December 23. 

“Given the status of the pending motion for a stay and the appeal that will be filed by the state of Utah, the Clerk’s Office will be closed until further notice,” stated Cache county’s attorney’s office, as reported by ThinkProgress. 

This act of defiance mimics the Jim Crow tactics which were practiced during the Brown v. Board of Eduction when Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd called for “massive resistance” to petition against racial integration within pubic schools. 

In an effort to prevent black children from attending schools with white children, one Virginia county completely closed down its public school system from 1959 through 1964. The Cache County Clerk office is essentially following this lead by closing their doors to all marriage-seeking citizens. 

Some clerk offices remained open in Utah, however denied gay couples marriage licenses. 

As of this writing, same-sex marriages are being held in Salt Lake City and Weber counties.

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