A federal judge on Monday allowed gay marriage to continue in Utah, rejecting a request to put same-sex weddings on hold as the state appeals a decision that has sent couples flocking to county clerk offices for marriage licenses.
Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage Friday, ruling the voter-approved measure is a violation of gay couples’ constitutional rights. The state then asked him to put a stop to the weddings, but he rejected the request.
Lawyers for the state quickly filed a request with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put gay marriage on hold.
More than 200 gay couples have obtained marriage licenses since Friday in Utah’s most populous county. On Monday, an estimated 100 licenses were issued in other counties, while some clerks shut their doors as they awaited Shelby’s decision.
Couples began lining up Sunday night at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office as they hoped to get licenses amid the uncertainty of the pending ruling. They anxiously eyed their cellphones for news on the decision, and a loud cheer erupted once word spread that Shelby wouldn’t be blocking weddings.
Shelby’s decision to overturn Utah’s same-sex marriage ban has drawn attention given the state’s long-standing opposition to gay marriage and its position as headquarters for the Mormon church. The gay weddings in Salt Lake City were taking place about 3 miles from church headquarters.
For now, a state considered one of the nation’s most conservative has become the 18th to allow same-sex couples to legally wed, joining the likes of California and New York.