Same-sex couples Natalie Dicou, left, and Nichole Christensen, middle left, and James Goodman, middle right, and Jeffrey Gomez, right, wait in line to get a marriage license at the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office in Salt Lake City, Dec. 20, 2013.
Kim Raff/AP

Utah officials request emergency stay over gay marriage ruling


Utah state officials are trying to halt gay couples from marrying after a federal court ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional on Friday.

The federal district court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right has never been established in any previous case in the 10th Circuit,”  Attorney General Brian Tarbet’s office announced in a statement released Saturday. “The state is requesting an emergency stay pending the filing of an appeal.”

The ruling, which came down on Friday from Judge Robert Shelby, lifted Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages which voters approved back in 2004. The ruling allowed same-sex couples to apply for and receive marriage licenses immediately. Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson were the first gay couple to receive a marriage license, tying the knot on Friday afternoon. 

“Governor Herbert supports injustice and inequality so we knew that we had a limited time window so we just wanted to get it done immediately,” Ferguson said in an interview with msnbc.

The attorney general’s office intends to bring a motion to stay before Judge Shelby Monday morning.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert also issued a statement Saturday in support of a temporary stay until the state’s position could be heard.

“Yesterday afternoon’s ruling from Judge Robert Shelby of the U.S. federal court has created a chaotic situation in our state that requires an expedited judicial resolution,” Herbert said. “Utahns deserve a fair and complete judicial process and I strongly encourage Judge Shelby to grant the motion for stay until the appeal can be heard and Utah’s constitutional defense of traditional marriage is restored.”