Utah AG drops same-sex marriage recognition appeal

Posted at 10:24 AM, Oct 07, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-08 16:25:33-04

UPDATE: In an order handed down on Wednesday, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Utah’s request to dismiss the same-sex marriage recognition lawsuit, ending the case.


SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Attorney General's Office is asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss it's appeal of a lawsuit over recognition of same-sex marriages.

FOX 13 first reported on Tuesday morning that Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was seeking to dismiss Evans v. Herbert, a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Utah over state recognition of same-sex marriages performed in the state. By mid-day, they had filed with the federal appeals court in Denver.

"With this Court’s mandate in effect, Utah is constitutionally required to recognize the marriages of the same-sex couples who were plaintiffs in this action. Therefore, the State of Utah’s appeal of the district court’s order of preliminary injunction requiring such recognition, as the law stands today, is moot," Utah Attorney General's Federal Solicitor Parker Douglas wrote.

Read the filing here:

"It feels amazing!" said Elenor Heyborne, a plaintiff in the ACLU's lawsuit along with her wife, Marina Gomberg.

Four couples and the ACLU sued the state after their marriages, performed after Amendment 3 was declared unconstitutional, were not recognized under a directive from Governor Gary Herbert. After Monday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the governor directed state agencies to immediately recognize same-sex marriages.

Such a move impacts things from joint tax returns to adoptions and driver license name changes.

More than 1,200 same-sex couples married in Utah for 17 days between the time U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby declared Amendment 3 unconstitutional and Utah obtained a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court while it appealed.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Utah's same-sex marriage case, making the lower court's rulings stand. As many as 26 same-sex couples sought marriage licenses in Utah on Monday, according to numbers provided by county clerks across the state. The majority reported to FOX 13 they had no same-sex couples seek marriage licenses.

The number of same-sex marriage licenses issued by county clerks in Utah, according to a poll conducted by FOX 13.

The number of same-sex marriage licenses issued by county clerks in Utah, according to a poll conducted by FOX 13.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said he believed the U.S. Supreme Court would have to take up a same-sex marriage case at some point.

"The Court, I think, is going to have to face the music on this, bring it up and then make a determination as to whether the states have a right to determine their marriage laws," Hatch said.

But asked if same-sex marriage was becoming inevitable, Hatch acknowledged it was a long-shot to reverse the courts.

"All I can say is the odds are against those of us who are for traditional marriage," he told FOX 13. "On the other hand, the Court has taken some real lumps for not recognizing that states have rights and certain states may decide otherwise."

Gomberg and Heyborne said they believed marriage in Utah was settled, as indicated by the state dropping its appeal of their lawsuit.

"I think as far as marriage is concerned? It's over," said Gomberg. "We are very confident it's over. The work to make sure Utah is a state that is fair to all gay and transgender people? We still have a lot of work to do . We can still be fired or evicted for being gay or transgender people. We still have work to do."