[JURIST] The respondents challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage on Friday filed a brief [text, PDF] with the US Supreme Court opposing the state’s request to stay [JURIST report] the district court’s ruling striking down the ban pending appeal. The respondents argue that the state must meet an “especially high burden,” because it is asking that a circuit justice grant a stay of the district court’s judgment pending appeal to the court of appeals, when the court of appeals itself has refused to issue the stay. Respondents argue that the state’s rights will not be seriously and irreparably injured by denial of a stay:
Complying with the injunction requires no change in the existing legal structure or administration of civil marriage, and the evidence before this Court shows that, like other states which have implemented similar rulings, Utah can readily and effectively comply with the District Court’s order.
The respondents challenge the state’s argument that the high court should issue a stay because same-sex couples and their children may suffer “dignitary and financial losses,” should the state win on appeal, contending that “[a]pplicants cannot simultaneously concede that being stripped of one’s marital status causes profound, irreparable harm and urge the Court to inflict that very injury on the married Respondents and other married same-sex couples.”
The rights of same-sex couples has been a controversial issue in the US and internationally. Last month the US District Court for the District of Utah ruled that Utah’s constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage violated due process and equal protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. The same day that the Utah ruling was issued, the Uganda parliament passed a bill limiting the rights of same-sex couples and imposing a penalty of up to life imprisonment [JURIST report] for involvement in homosexual relationships. Earlier that week, New Mexico’s high court ruled that it is unconstitutional [JURIST report] to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. The same week, the US executive branch announced that it would begin processing Social Security payments [JURIST report] to surviving couples in accordance with a US Supreme Court ruling [JURIST report] issued this summer which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act [text], a federal statute that defined marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman for all federal purposes and refused to recognize any other type of marriage.