Federal Judge Says Gay Marriages Can Continue in Utah

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby denied a motion to block gay marriages in Utah while the state appeals his original ruling. 

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On Monday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby denied a motion to block gay marriages in Utah while the state appeals his original ruling. For now, gay marriages can continue in the state. Shelby ruled on Friday that Utah's gay marriage ban is unconstitutional writing in the decision, "the state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason." Utah is the 18th state to legalize gay marriage.

The state will still appeal Shelby's ruling that the ban is unconstitutional. State attorneys also tried this weekend to block gay marriages through the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which was unsuccessful. Utah Governor Gary Herbert said Friday,

"I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. I am working with my legal counsel and the acting attorney general to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah."

According to Fox 13 reporter Ben Winslow, state attorneys are attempting to appeal to the 10th Circuit Court again in light of Monday's decision.

Prior to the hearing on Monday morning, gay couples rushed to county clerks' offices to obtain marriage licenses, in case Shelby granted the stay. Many camped out the night before, in order to be first in line.

Reuters reports that over 900 couples waited in line at the Salt Lake City office Monday morning. Boy Scouts have been passing out pizza to couples (for the record, the Boy Scouts still ban gays from being scout leaders).

The Spectrum reporter David Demille documented the line (not quite as long) at Washington County's office:

Marty Pendry and Brian Strothers became Washington County's first successfully married gay couple a little after 10 am EST.

To cope with high demand, Weber County's office tried to open up Saturday, but employees were unable to do so for logistical reasons. Still, hundreds of couples waited outside.

And some offices decided not to open right away. A Cache County official noted that the office would be "closed indefinitely" until Shelby's decision is reviewed.

According to Winslow, Utah County is still not issuing licenses.

Now, there's no question — clerks will have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In fact, Shelby told clerks they'd be breaking the law if they refuse to issue licenses.

This post is on a developing story, and we'll update as more information is available. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.