Officials in Utah are asking for an emergency stay of a federal court ruling that found the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
Reporting from Salt Lake City, NPR’s Howard Berkes filed this report for our Newscast unit:
“Within minutes of the federal court decision, the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office was inundated with gay couples seeking marriage licenses.
“And marriages were performed in the lobby and hallways long after the office was scheduled to close. The Utah Attorney General’s office hopes to get an emergency stay in the next few days from a federal appeals court in Denver.
“Republican Gov. Gary Herbert condemned the ruling as judicial activism that overrides the will of the people. Voters in this predominately Mormon state overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004. But U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby ruled that the law irrationally demeans the dignity of same sex couples.”
“I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah,” Herbert said in a statement.
The AP caught up with Elisa Noel, who was at the county clerk’s office with her partner in Salt Lake City:
“‘I can’t believe this is Utah,’ Noel said moments after a ceremony that took place about 3 miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church.
“It was a jubilant affair as cheers broke out after ceremonies were completed. A gay bar in Salt Lake quickly made plans for a Friday night party to mark the event. Some made plans to march on the capitol Monday.”
The Salt Lake City Tribune reports that the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had remained silent on the challenge to state law throughout the process. But it broke its silence on Friday.
“The church has been consistent in its support of traditional marriage while teaching that all people should be treated with respect,” spokesman Cody Craynor said according to the Tribune. “This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.”