This is Utah’s fifth attempt in request for stay on gay marriage

Posted at 10:35 PM, Dec 31, 2013
and last updated 2014-01-01 00:35:19-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Lawyers for the state of Utah are preparing to take a case opposing same-sex marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court. State leaders want same-sex marriages put on hold until a court decides on the constitutionality of Amendment Three.

They filed intent for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon.

It’s Utah's fifth attempt at an emergency stay on gay marriages. Most recently, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals shot the state down.

Now, Utah's Attorney General has hired a Boise law firm. They’re making similar arguments, hoping the nation’s highest court will do what no other court has – halt same-sex marriages.

Federal judge Robert Shelby ruled Dec. 20 that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Since then, about 900 marriages have taken place across the state. In an application to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the state says the ruling has caused irreparable harm and trumped Utah's sovereignty.

"An affront is what they've called it to the state of Utah's people, legislature, and the constitution by allowing these same-sex couples to marry," explained defense attorney Greg Skordas.

In the state's application, a Boise marriage attorney argued kids need a mom and a dad, saying “...on average children navigate developmental stages more easily, perform better academically, have fewer emotional disorders, and become better functioning adults when reared in that environment.”

James Magleby, one of the attorneys representing several same-sex couples, the plaintiff's in this matter said the state's motion lacks merit and "we are disappointed that the state of Utah will spend millions of dollars to attempt to reinstate laws which deny due process and equal protection to all of Utah's citizens."

"I really expect the Supreme Court won’t grant the stay as all the courts have will simply let the appeal run like any other appeal has," Skordas said.

The plaintiffs have until Friday morning to file a response with Justice Sotomayor who’s known as one of the more liberal justices on the Supreme Court. Over the summer, the court struck down the federal defense of marriage act. Now, Utah is asking, do states still have the right to define marriage?

"Utah had a constitutional amendment and California had Prop 8 but they didn't appeal it.  They lost their argument and the state said 'no' we're not gonna take this appeal so the Supreme Court never had a chance to put its teeth into it so the state of Utah is now saying we really haven’t decided that issue like some people thought we had.  Let’s let the Supreme Court of the U.S. now decide if the U.S. constitution's states’ rights overrides individuals rights of people to have same sex marriages."

If Justice Sotomayor rejects Utah's request for a stay, the state can apply to all of the Supreme Court but constitutional experts that would be a long-shot because Utah has been consistently shot down.