Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Appeals court panel rules against stay in same-sex marriage case

Family law affects nearly every person that lives on United States soil and even citizens abroad. These laws govern everything from the rights and duties parents and children owe to each other to the very definition of what is considered a family. As society changes, the laws which governs it must change to maintain the rule of law. Unfortunately for some, like most legal processes, the journey to successfully changing a family law can be a long and arduous task, sometimes spanning decades and using thousands of man hours.

The thousands of same-sex couples who married in Utah during the period of time it was legal have won another victory as the federal appeals court decided against staying the decision of its district court. In denying the stay, the Court has forced Utah to legally recognize all same-sex marriages lawfully performed in the state. The three panel court agreed 2-1 to not place an additional stay on the district court decision stating that Utah didn't meet its burden for proving it is likely to succeed on appeal. The stay that the appeals court entered in June expires on July 21, 2014. Utah still has the opportunity to apply for a stay before the United States Supreme Court.

If Utah decides to apply for a stay with the Supreme Court, the decision whether or not to grant it may rest in Justice Sotomayor's hands alone, or the full court if she decides to refer the matter. While a stay will put on hold any recognition of same-sex marriages in Utah, it does not affect final outcome of the case that started new chain of lawsuits. That case, Kitchen v Herbert, is still working its way through the court system.

Family law is important to society in many respects, as it governs what some consider the corner stone of the United States. Being aware of the laws that govern society is important as they affect everyone, whether directly or indirectly.

Source: Washington Blade, "Court refuses to stay recognition of Utah same-sex marriages" Chris Johnson, July 12, 2014

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