The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently struck down a Utah state ban on same sex marriage. U.S. appeals court strikes down same-sex marriage ban, by Bill Mears, cnn.com, June 25, 2014. The court ruled 2-1, holding that “the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws. A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.” The court stayed enforcement of the decision to give states time to explore their legal options.
This is the first time an appeals court has weighed in on the debate and it is unclear how the ruling will apply to the other states in the district (Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming). The clerk of court in Boulder County, Colorado has stated she will begin issuing marriage licenses for same sex couples stating “[u]nless a Court in Colorado or the U.S. Supreme Court tells me otherwise, I plan to begin issuing licenses.” Colorado’s attorney general, however, stated that any licenses issued to same sex couples before a final resolution on the issues would be invalid.
Currently, same sex marriage is legal in the District of Columbia, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has already indicated that his office will appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court elects to hear the case, it will certainly have implications for other states throughout the country. This is one to keep your eye on.