Appeals Court overturns Utah’s same sex marriage ban

Today is the first anniversary of the landmark ruling United States v. Windsor that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional and opened the floodgates to a large number of court cases that have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. So far 14 District Courts have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage (with Indiana joining them yesterday) and other courts have ruled favorably on related aspects of same-sex marriage, such as whether states that do not allow it must respect the marriages of those who were legally married in other states. There has not been a single defeat.

Yesterday the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Utah ruled 2-1 that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. This is significant in that it was the first decision on such cases by an Appeals Court, a necessary stage before the US Supreme Court can take it up. In addition to Utah, the Tenth Circuit’s jurisdiction covers Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

The Appeals Court put its ruling on hold which means that Utah couples can’t get married as yet. Lyle Denniston explains why they did this:

The Tenth Circuit noted that, after a federal trial judge had struck down the Utah ban, the Supreme Court had put that ruling on hold. So, the Tenth Circuit said, it was postponing the effective date of its ruling until after the Supreme Court has a chance to consider any appeal by state officials. If such an appeal is not filed, or if it is filed and rejected, its ruling would then go into effect, it said. If the Supreme Court agreed to take on the case, the stay would remain in effect until a decision emerged.

In the Indiana case, in which that state’s same-sex marriage ban was struck down, the Indianapolis judge who issued the ruling ordered his decision into effect immediately. That would put it up to state officials to decide whether to seek a stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

The Utah Attorney General has already said they will appeal.

A good anniversary for the Windsor decision.


  1. colnago80 says

    Yesterday the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Utah ruled 2-1 that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional

    Technically, the appeals court upheld the district court decision declaring Utah’s law unconstitutional. The anti forces are trying to make hay out of the fact that one of the 3 justices dissented. Known in the trade as grasping at straws.

  2. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Maybe this one will be the first appeal to get to the SCOTUS. It will be interesting when it finally does. I think all the appeals will be lumped together and heard as a single case, which should settle the issue.

    I’m wondering if various states will try to come up with underhanded end runs like they do with abortion, or if this issue is just so lopsided that they will let it rest, politically, but continue to bluster to raise money.

  3. Trebuchet says

    Still could be all for naught when it gets to The Supremes. You know there are three votes for sure against SSM and two more doubtful. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them try to overturn states that have explicitly allowed it. Because reasons.

  4. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Trebuchet, I doubt it. The ruling on DOMA was pretty clear, and the cultural winds are clearly blowing that way. I’m inclined to think that if these cases, collectively (which is what is likely to happen to the few that get appealed) make it to SCOTUS, the worst case will probably be 6-3 in favor, and some of the justices might even be inclined to shift their vote for the sake of their ‘legacy’.

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