The Utah Supreme Court granted the state's motion for an emergency stay halting the adoption of children by legally married same-sex couples in Utah late Friday night. I wrote about the issue here. Attorney General Reyes requested the emergency order after a state district court judge threatened to hold him in contempt of court regarding the issue.
At issue, requiring the Department of Health to include the names of both adoptive parents on birth certificates.From the Salt Lake Tribune:
In December, a federal judge found Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. 1300 couples married before Utah’s attorney general, Sean Reyes (image), could convince the U.S. Supreme Court to stay that ruling. Republican Governor Gary Herbert subsequently decided that even though those marriages are legal, the state would not recognize them. The federal government, under the direction of Eric Holder, is recognizing all 1300 marriages.
“Supporters of same-sex marriage have accused the state of ‘tearing families apart’ for political reasons, but Assistant Attorney General Joni Jones, who oversees the litigation division of the office, said the state is seeking clarity, not discord,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Now, in what some might say is a vengeful act, not only are 1300 same-sex marriages in limbo, so is the status of their children — as a direct result not of the federal judge’s December ruling or of the U.S. Supreme Court’s, but of the governor’s decision to not recognize the legal marriages.
The high court’s stay presumably puts that June 16 hearing on hold as well, according to an attorney general’s office news release.A three judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit heard oral arguments in Utah's marriage equality case last month. A ruling by that appeals court could come at any time, however experts do not expect a decision for another couple (or maybe even several) of months. In the meantime, things have gotten a bit messy in Utah since the governor refuses to recognize the 1,300 or so same-sex marriages that occurred prior to the SCOTUS issuing the stay of Judge Shelby's ruling.
"The stay will remain in effect until the issue has been fully briefed by the parties and resolved by the court," according to the release. The court has not yet announced a date for the oral arguments, the release adds.
Last month, the state filed petitions that said judges who granted such adoptions "abused [their] discretion" by approving an adoption for couples and ordering the Utah Department of Vital Records and Statistics to issue new birth certificates for the couples’ children.