Utah gay marriage: Weddings put on hold by US high court
- 6 January 2014
- From the section US & Canada
The US Supreme Court has halted same-sex marriages in the state of Utah pending a legal challenge to the state's ban on gay nuptials.
Gay marriage had been allowed in Utah since 20 December, when a judge ruled the state's ban was unconstitutional.
More than 900 same-sex couples have been wed since then.
The Supreme Court order halts same-sex marriage until a Denver-based federal appeals court decides whether to uphold the ruling overturning the ban.
The Denver-based US Court of the Appeals for the 10th Circuit has twice rejected attempts by Utah to stop the weddings pending appeal.
Utah's ban against same-sex marriage was passed by voters in the overwhelmingly conservative state in 2004.
In a 20 December ruling, Federal District Judge Robert Shelby said the ban violated same-sex couples' right to equal protection under the law, and found that Utah had failed to show that allowing gay marriage would harm opposite-sex couples.
The ruling dismayed Republican Governor Gary Herbert and the Mormon church, which counts two-thirds of the state's residents as members.
Labelling the Supreme Court decision "correct" on Monday, Mr Herbert told CNN: "All Utahns deserve to have this issue resolved through a fair and complete judicial process. I firmly believe this is a state-rights issue."
Meanwhile Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes failed to indicate whether the state would attempt to challenge the validity of the same-sex marriages conducted since 20 December.
"There is not clear legal precedence for this particular situation," he said in a statement. "It is very unfortunate that so many Utah citizens have been put into this legal limbo."