Gay rights organizations on Monday
responded to a Supreme Court order halting the marriages of gay and
lesbian couples in Utah as an appeal in a case challenging the
state's ban moves forward.
The high court's order puts a hold on a
federal judge's December 20 ruling striking down Utah's 2004
voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to
More than 1,000 gay couples married
since U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby declared Amendment 3 in
violation of the U.S. Constitution.
After Shelby and the 10th
Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver denied the state's requests for a
stay, Utah officials turned to the Supreme Court.
The justices gave no indication as to
which of the state's arguments swayed them to reinstate the ban until
the appeals court has ruled on it, though they appeared united, since
no dissents were included.
“While every day's denial of the
freedom to marry hurts, today's decision by the Supreme Court to
grant a stay in Utah is just a temporary pause in the work to win
marriage for all loving and committed same-sex couples in the state,”
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, said in a
statement. “As the case makes its way up the ladder, we must
continue to do the work of having conversations about why marriage
matters, engaging both gay and non-gay people, and preparing for when
the Supreme Court does take up the next case that will bring national
resolution. About 1,000 same-sex couples have legally married in
Utah in the past few weeks; and their friends, neighbors, and elected
officials will now see that marriage betters their lives and hurts no
one. Being married allows a committed couple to protect each other
and their family, and gives respect to their commitment under law.
It's crucial to use the momentum we gained in 2013 for the freedom to
marry in the new year to show that allowing same-sex couples to share
in the joy of marriage in Utah – and everywhere – is the right
thing to do.”
Chad Griffin, president of the Human
Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate,
also emphasized that the ruling was only a temporary setback.
“Utahns and other Americans have
witnessed the joy that marriage has brought to hundreds of loving and
committed couples over the past weeks,” Griffin said in a
statement. “While it is disappointing that the dreams of many more
will be put on hold, we know that in the end justice will be served
and no couple will be excluded from this cherished institution. We
still live in two Americas where full equality is within reach in one
and another where even basic protections are non-existent. As the
marriage equality map expands, history is on our side and we will not
rest until where you live is not a barrier to living your dreams.”
Omar Sharif, Jr., a spokesman for
GLAAD, called the decision “disappointing.”
“By once again denying gay and
lesbian Utah couples the vital protections that only marriage can
afford, the Court is putting families at risk and taking a big step
backward in ensuring full equality for all Americans,” Sharif said
in a statement.