Despite a request from state officials, a federal judge on Monday refused to institute a stay on his surprise ruling last week instituting marriage equality in Utah, according to a local news outlet.
Fox 13 reported Monday U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby, an Obama appointee, declined to issue a stay following a hearing in his court, where attorneys for same-sex couples and the state made their case on the issue.
— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) December 23, 2013
The order means that same-sex marriages can continue throughout Utah for the time being. As of Friday, more than 100 same-sex couples married in Salt Lake City alone, and others camped outside the doors of the clerk’s office Sunday night in anticipation of marrying the next day. However, at least five counties — Box Elder, Cache, Emery, Utah and Sanpete — are reportedly not issuing marriage licenses.
However, there is the possibility the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the ruling is expected to be appealed, could institute a stay as it considers the ruling. The Tenth Circuit has twice denied requests for an emergency stay from state officials, once Sunday and again after state officials refiled on Monday.
However, the court allowed them the opportunity to refile at a later time. State officials made their request on Monday.
State officials — Gov. Gary Herbert and Acting Attorney General Brian Tarbet — had requested a stay on the basis that there’s no precedent for marriage equality in the Tenth Circuit and same-sex couples would suffer harm if their marriages were deemed invalid at a later time. Attorneys for same-sex couples, however, said the real harm is prohibiting from same-sex couples from marrying when the laws barring them marriage have been ruled unconstitutional.
In related news, Herbert said he’ll announce his new pick on Monday for the state’s attorney general, who’ll continue the case going forward.