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Utah Asks U.S. Supreme Court To Stop Gay Marriages

Utah's attorney general has filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay that would allow the state to enforce its limit of marriage to a union between a man and a woman.

Similar requests have already been rejected by district and circuit courts. Earlier this month, a federal district court invalidated Utah's ban on gay marriage that was endorsed by voters in 2004, saying it is not constitutional.

In the week that followed, more than 900 wedding licenses were issued to gay and lesbian couples, Huffington Post reports, more than 70 percent of the total granted.

"As a result of the district court's injunction, numerous same-sex marriages are now occurring every day in Utah," Attorney General Sean Reyes wrote in a request that was filed on behalf of himself and Gov. Gary Herbert. "And each one is an affront not only to the interests of the State and its citizens in being able to define marriage through ordinary democratic channels ... but also to this Court's unique role as final arbiter of the profoundly important constitutional question that is so carefully preserved in Windsor."

Windsor, you'll recall, refers to Edith Windsor, whose case was the impetus for the Supreme Court to declare part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional this past June.

Utah's request was officially filed Tuesday, asking Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is assigned emergency requests from that section of the United States, to grant a delay pending an appeal.

After receiving the request, Sotomayor "called for a response due by noon E.S.T. on Friday, January 3, 2014," according to a statement from the Supreme Court's press office that was forwarded to us by our colleague Carrie Johnson.

In citing the state's reasons for seeking a stay, the Utah officials wrote that without one, "there is a likelihood — indeed, a certainty — of irreparable harm."

The attorney general wrote that "this case involves not just a refusal by the federal government to accommodate a State's definition of marriage, but an outright abrogation of such a definition — by a single federal court wielding a federal injunction and acting under the banner of the federal Constitution."

The Utah officials' filing is 25 pages long, not counting its inclusion of earlier rulings. It cites 42 other court cases, several parts of the U.S. Constitution, and other authorities ranging from reports on same-sex households to the 1974 book Paternal Deprivation and the 1796 farewell address of George Washington.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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