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Utah Appeals Same-Sex Marriage Case To Supreme Court

Utah’s Attorney General has appealed the 10th Circuit’s decision striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage to the Supreme Court:

WASHINGTON—Utah officials on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could set the stage for the justices to decide whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

“A vast cloud covers this entire area of the law, and only this court can lift it,” Utah said in a petition filed with the high court.

Utah is seeking to save its gay-marriage ban after two lower courts ruled it unconstitutional. A federal trial judge struck down the law in December, prompting hundreds of Utah same-sex couples to marry right away. The Supreme Court in early January ordered a temporary stop to the marriages while the state appealed.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver also ruled against Utah in June, saying the Constitution “protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws.”

Utah’s appeal is the first by a state to reach the Supreme Court since the justices in June 2013 struck down the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which had denied federal benefits to same-sex married couples. In a California case decided that same day, the high court avoided a ruling on the constitutionality of state gay-marriage bans.

The court could announce this fall whether it will consider Utah’s appeal. If it does, the court could issue a blockbuster ruling on gay marriage by June 2015.

As I noted on Sunday, one of the Defendants in the 4th Circuit case that struck down Virginia’s marriage ban has announced their intention to appeal the decision, and today the Attorney General of Virginia also announced that he would ask the Court to accept an appeal of the 4th Circuit’s decision even though he has not actively defended the law in Court. At this rate, this means that the Supreme Court will likely be considering both of these appeals some time late in 2014 and, if they are granted, would hear oral argument sometime in the late winter/early spring of 2015 with a decision being handed down by June 2015. As I’ve said in the past, this is happening a lot faster than the Justices probably anticipated, but it is happening.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook