9th Circuit Issues Stay on Idaho Same-Sex Marriage Ruling; Cites Utah ‘Chaos’

by Norris Law Group on May 19, 2014

Utah AG May Be Held in Contempt In Same-Sex Adoption CasesThe Deseret News reported on May 15 that a temporary stay has been ordered on a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that would allow same-sex couples in Idaho to legally marry in the state as early as Friday, May 16. The stay is pending the state of Idaho’s appeal of the judge’s May 13 decision.

In the motion requesting the stay, Boise attorney Monte Stewart said that if a stay was not granted, “Idaho will experience the same unseemly chaos, confusion, conflict, uncertainty, and spawn of further litigation and administrative actions seen in Utah and, to a lesser extent, Michigan” when gay and lesbian couples “‘married’ in contravention” of gay marriage laws. Stewart added that the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Utah’s same-sex marriage law “…too late to avoid much of the harms.” Utah has agreed to pay Stewart $50,000 to defend its same-sex marriage law.

Deborah Ferguson, attorney for the plaintiffs in the Idaho case, argued that the state did not show how Idaho as a whole would be harmed if it allowed gay couples to marry: “There is no uncertainty or confusion from the state’s perspective; county recorders may simply continue to issue marriage licenses as they do in the regular course of their business.”

Approximately 1,300 same-sex couples either married or requested a marriage license in Utah after a federal judge overturned Amendment 3 (which defines legal marriage as only between a man and a woman in Utah) in December 2013. Amendment 3 also prohibits recognition of any  same-sex union. Monte Stewart played an integral role in the passage of Amendment 3 in Utah in 2004.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay in the Utah case in January 2014, the state has not recognized any marriages that took place in the few weeks during which same-sex marriage was legal in Utah. This has put these couples in a kind of “legal limbo.” As of this writing, the Utah same-sex marriage case has yet to be settled.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of divorce and family law. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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