Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

9th Circuit Court issues stay in Idaho gay marriage case

By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News

Published: Thu, May 15 11:45 a.m. MDT

 The lobby outside the county clerks office was filled with people looking to get their marriage license despite the doors closing two hours later than normal business hours for the day, after a federal judge ruled that Amendment 3, Utah's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional on Friday, December 20, 2013. Idaho officials seeking to stay a federal court ruling that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage say they want to avoid the \

The lobby outside the county clerks office was filled with people looking to get their marriage license despite the doors closing two hours later than normal business hours for the day, after a federal judge ruled that Amendment 3, Utah's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional on Friday, December 20, 2013. Idaho officials seeking to stay a federal court ruling that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage say they want to avoid the "chaos" that ensued in Utah.

(Matt Gade, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Idaho officials pointed to "chaos" in Utah in getting a federal appeals court Thursday to delay a judge's ruling that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a temporary stay pending Idaho's emergency motion for a longer stay while it appeals U.S. District Judge Candy Dale's decision earlier this week. The temporary stay will remain in place until the 9th Circuit decides whether to issue a full stay pending the state's appeal.

Attorneys for Idaho asked the court to put a hold on Dale's ruling that would have allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry starting Friday morning.

In the motion, Boise lawyer Monte Stewart argued that, without a stay, "Idaho will experience the same unseemly chaos, confusion, conflict, uncertainty, and spawn of further litigation and administrative actions seen in Utah and, to a lesser extent, Michigan" when hundreds of same-sex couples "'married' in contravention" of the states' marriage laws.

Stewart, whom Utah agreed to pay $50,000 to defend its marriage law, said the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately stayed the Utah decision "but too late to avoid much of the harms."

Deborah Ferguson, a lawyer for the Idaho plaintiffs, contended Idaho failed to show what harm would be done to the state if same-sex couples were allowed to marry.

"There is no uncertainty or confusion from the state’s perspective; county recorders may simply continue to issue marriage licenses as they do in the regular course of their business," she wrote in a motion opposing the stay.

About 1,300 couples married in Utah after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby overturned the state's voter-approved Amendment 3 defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The law also prohibits recognition of any other type of same-sex union. Stewart helped lead the campaign to get the Utah constitutional amendment passed in 2004.

Utah has declined to recognize those marriages, leaving same-sex couples who married in the state in legal limbo. Four couples filed a lawsuit to have their marriages recognized. Same-sex couples trying to adopt children also are fighting the state in court.

Stewart said the Supreme Court made it clear when it issued the Jan. 6 stay in Utah that it will decide the marriage question and no lower court decision should allow same-sex couples to marry or have their marriages recognized.

Since the Supreme Court’s intervention, all but one of the district courts that ruled against man-woman marriage stayed their own decisions. The one exception was Michigan, and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed that decision within hours, Stewart wrote.

Ferguson argued that those courts did not perform their own analysis of the required legal test for a stay. Instead they cited the Supreme Court's order in the Utah case "with little or no examination of the relevant factors."

On Tuesday, Dale overturned Idaho's voter-passed law banning same-sex marriage and rejected the state's request for a stay, saying it likely would not win on the merits of the case. The state then turned to the 9th Circuit Court.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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1. Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA,
May 15, 2014

The good news for Monte Stewart is that the Supreme Court has made it clear that it will decide the fate of state laws banning same sex marriage. Unfortunately, it has also made clear they will strike them down just as they struck down DOMA. Just ask Justice Scalia.

2. GZE
SALT LAKE CITY, UT,
May 15, 2014

There would not be "chaos" in Utah if the State had not decided not to recognize legal contracts.

3. slcdenizen
Murray, UT,
May 15, 2014

Chaos? LOL, so dramatic.

4. Aggie238
Logan, UT,
May 15, 2014

When are people in states like Utah and Idaho going to learn that the best way to handle this issue is to get their governments out of marriage altogether, rather than spending a fortune on a losing legal battle? Civil unions for everyone of legal age, marriage for those who wish to do so under the auspices of their chosen church, spiritual authority, or dot com pastor.

Marriage is inherently an intensely personal and private contract between two individuals, or at most two families, and ought not merit any concern or regulation from the state. Nobody should have to seek permission from their government to be married.

I am actively opposed to gay marriage on a personal level, but every person in this country is guaranteed the freedom of association by the United States Constitution, and that freedom of association absolutely must include marriage. That supreme law of the land does not permit any local, state, or federal government, no matter how many people support it, to deny that right to anyone on any basis.

The only solution that has a snowball's chance in h*** to satisfy both parties is for government to exit the marriage equation altogether.

5. LovelyDeseret
Gilbert, AZ,
May 15, 2014

What about the chaos in Massachusetts? Marriage rates in Massachusetts are the lowest in the country. Bottom line is nobody there cherishes marriage anymore. We are slowly dipping into a marriageless society. That chaos is unfathomable.