Utah Asks Sotomayor to Halt Gay Marriages

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 1 2014 12:09 PM

Utah Asks Sotomayor to Halt Gay Marriages

The Utah attorney general would like to dissolve this marriage.

Photo by Jamie Rector/Getty Images

Following the 10th Circuit's refusal to stay a federal judge's decision legalizing gay marriage in Utah, the state's attorney general has asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor—who oversees 10th Circuit cases—to halt all gay marriages while the state appeals. Around 900 same-sex couples have married since the federal judge's decision on December 20, although those unions will be imperiled if the decision is reversed. 

Mark Joseph Stern Mark Joseph Stern

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

The state's request to the 10th Circuit to stay the marriages was widely expected to succeed, and the Utah attorney general now appears to be struggling to find lawyers qualified to take on the case. On Tuesday afternoon, the office's official Twitter account sent out a plea for "outside counsel on [the] same-sex marriage case," and the attorney general took much longer than anticipated to present his case to Sotomayor. The state was clearly caught off guard by the ruling, and its complaint largely rehashes a number of arguments roundly rejected by the court in Windsor. From USA Today:

"Numerous same-sex marriages are now occurring every day in Utah," Utah lawyers complain in the filing. "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."
Utah repeatedly stressed that states have the authority to define marriage as between a man and woman. "That states have a powerful interest in controlling the definition of marriage within their borders is indisputable," Utah said in the filing.

The attorney general also leaned heavily on the "responsible procreation" argument, a thoroughly debunked defense which the Supreme Court really, really didn't like:

"On average children navigate developmental stages more easily, perform better academically, have fewer emotional disorders and become better functioning adults when reared in that environment," the pleading says.

Sotomayor has asked for legal briefs from same-sex couples fighting to uphold the federal judge's decision; she is expected to rule on the stay next week. When she does, she has the option of deciding the issue herself, or referring the case to the court as a whole.


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 18 2014 11:25 AM Gays on TV: From National Freakout to Modern Family Fun
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM Where Pregnant Women Aren't Allowed to Work After 36 Weeks  
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 11:48 AM Watch the Hilarious First Sketch From Season 4 of Key & Peele
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.