SALT LAKE CITY — The state backed its request for more time to appeal a lower court ruling in the same-sex marriage recognition case Wednesday with a new brief in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Utah Federal Solicitor Parker Douglas contends the complexity of the case merits a "modest" extension of the Sept. 22 deadline the 10th Circuit imposed last week. The state filed a motion Monday to extend the date to Oct. 22.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents three gay and lesbian couples in the case, wrote in a brief Tuesday that the state has had plenty of time to research the issues to prepare the appeal. It also argued that delays cause financial and emotional harm to the plaintiffs.
Douglas writes that the state has never disputed that the couples "genuinely feel subjected to hardship" but that their attorneys haven't acknowledged the "equally true proposition" that Utah is hurt by not being able to enforce its laws.
U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled in May that Utah must extend marital benefits to about 1,300 gay and lesbian couples who married last winter after another court ruling struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
JoNell Evans and Stacia Ireland, Donald Johnson and Carl Fritz Shultz, Matthew Barraza and Tony Milner, and Elenor Heyborne and Marina Gomberg sued the state in an effort to have their marriages recognized. All were married in Utah between Dec. 20, 2013, and Jan. 6.
The state is appealing the decision that allowed those marriages to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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