Supreme Court issues stay in Utah gay marriage recognition case

Published: Friday, July 18 2014 3:15 p.m. MDT

"While obtaining a clear and final decision by the highest court on all related issues is in the best interest of Utahns, we recognize that it does not make the waiting and uncertainty during that process any easier," Reyes said. "Our internal team of attorneys have diverse personal beliefs about the issues in question but unite in their dedication to seek final clarity and uphold Utah law."

The attorney general's office has argued that the 10th Circuit made a mistake in directing the state to recognize "interim marriages" before the Supreme Court decides whether same-sex marriage is constitutional.

Gene Schaerr, the state's lead attorney, contends that hearing Utah's Amendment 3 case would give the Supreme Court the opportunity to decide whether the Constitution prohibits a state from defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

"That decision will also likely dictate the outcome in this case. If Utah’s laws are struck down, Utah will recognize plaintiffs’ interim marriages; if Utah’s laws are upheld, Utah will do everything possible to comply with them," he wrote.

Block argued that there is no such thing as interim marriages. The state seeks to "effectively divorce" those couples against their wishes by placing their marriages on hold, he wrote in a court brief.

"In seeking to nullify marriages that were legal at the time they were solemnized, defendants seek to do something that is unprecedented in our nation's history," Block wrote.

Schaerr argued that until the constitutional question is resolved, requiring the state to recognize the marriages and provide marital benefits is premature and unwarranted. The unions would be void if same-sex marriage is found unconstitutional, he wrote.

Block contended that the marriages must be recognized whether the case is ultimately affirmed or reversed.

"If any uncertainty exists, it is the product of defendants' unlawful attempt to put these marriages 'on hold' and continued attempts to seek emergency stays to avoid complying with federal and state court orders rejecting their legal arguments," he wrote.

Contributing: Richard Piatt

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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