Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. The ruling came on June 25, from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and it decided, in a 2 to 1 vote, that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage be annulled. This was the first time in U.S. history that a federal appeals court ruled against a same-sex marriage ban, since last year’s seminal ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2013, America’s highest court of law ruled that the federal government needs to extend the same legal benefits that legally married heterosexual couples benefit from to same-sex couples. On Wednesday, however, official representatives of the state of Utah announced that the state will seek a direct appeal against the ruling with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since the decision in favor of same-sex marriage came from a lower court and since it was also split (2-1), the state of Utah could have chosen to ask for an en banc review from the full court. However, state officials preferred to ask for permission to submit a direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. This decision was communicated to the general public on Wednesday by Missy W. Larsen, the head communications officer for Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. The statement explained that the Utah Attorney General’s Office is not seeking an en banc review of the 10th Circuit decision in the Kitchen vs. Herbert case. Since the state of Utah wants to “obtain clarity and resolution” it “will file a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court in the coming weeks”. Larsen added that Reyes’ sworn duty is to defend the laws of the state and the 3rd Utah Constitutional Amendment is constitutional, until found otherwise by the Supreme Court.
As of this writing, the Supreme Court has no deadline by which it needs to decide whether or not to deal with Utah’s appeal to the same-sex marriage ban. But since there are also other cases dealing with same-sex marriage from other appellate court districts, the general expectation is that the Supreme Court will, indeed, tackle the case. The Utah ruling on the state’s same-sex marriage ban was rapidly followed in late June by a similar decision in Oklahoma. The Utah ruling is currently stayed, pending legal action, while the Oklahoma situation has not received a ruling just yet. The state ban on same-sex marriage was also struck down in Virginia and the state has appealed the decision. The appeal ruling is expected to come in this summer.