SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Wednesday it's important to appeal Wednesday's 10th Circuit Court ruling that Utah cannot stop marriages based on gender.
"From my point of view, it needs to be appealed because we can't get finality and final resolution, unless the Supreme Court hears the case and makes a decision," the governor said at a brief news conference. "Once that happens, we'll abide by what the court decides. But this is not completed yet."
Halting the state's defense of the voter-approved Amendment 3 to Utah's Constitution now, he said, would be "like stopping a game in the middle of the contest. This was a 2-1 decision, so at least a judge agrees with the state's decision. And you can't stop in the middle. You've got to play until the final buzzer."
Herbert said he was disappointed by Wednesday's ruling but appreciative that a decision has been made.
"It's been a long time coming. I'm glad we have one. It puts us a step closer to getting resolution on this thing," the governor said. "I'm disappointed because I believe states do have the right through the democratic process to make the determination on the definition of marriage. Our people have spoken on that issue."
Herbert said he has talked with Attorney General Sean Reyes, who was out of town when the court ruled, and was told the decision is being reviewed. "The sooner we can get to the Supreme Court, the better I would like it," he said. "I think all people on all sides of the issue should want it to be decided by the Supreme Court as soon as possible."
The stay issued by the court showed "some wisdom," the governor said, noting U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby's original decision in December overturning Amendment 3 did not include a stay. That allowed more than 1,300 same-sex couples to wed in Utah before the Supreme Court issued a stay.
The governor said the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals "understood the need to have some more order brought to the process."
He declined to say whether he agreed with the court's decision. "It doesn't matter whether I disagree or not. What matters is the law on the books. Clearly we have arguments on both sides of that issue. That's why we're in court. People don't agree."
The cost of taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court won't be a problem, Herbert said.
"I don't know what the cost will be to fund that effort, but I expect again it's money well spent on behalf of people on all sides of this issue. Everybody wants to know what is the answer to the question," he said. "So whatever the cost of doing this is, I think we can figure that out in our budget. I don't think that's going to be a major issue at all."
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