The Washington Post

Utah’s same-sex couples can keep getting married, for now

Jeff Key, of Salt Lake City, holds the flag above his head as advocates for gay marriage rally on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City after in August 2010. (AP Photo/Steve Griffin – The Salt Lake Tribune)

Having missed their chance Friday, Kara Weiss and her partner, Brittany Espy, both 31, spent the weekend worrying that their window of opportunity might close.

A federal judge had ruled Utah’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional Friday, allowing same-sex couples to get marriage licenses, but the state was racing to put an end to the practice as it appeals the ruling. Weiss and Espy were rushing, too, to get married lest the state get its way. They were married before a judge could make his decision on Monday morning, but it wouldn’t have mattered: he denied the state’s request around noon.

Now that Shelby has ruled, Utah is expected to take its appeal back to the court—the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, but in the meantime same-sex couples will be able to continue getting married.

Weiss and Espy had initially missed their chance Friday, so they had hoped the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office might be open Saturday. But it wasn’t. She and Espy arrived at the clerk’s office at 5:30 a.m. Monday only to find out that people had been there overnight. “It’s been really crazy,” Weiss said.

When they finally received their license, a judge was hearing the state’s argument. Fortunately, which way he ruled wouldn’t matter — Cliff Rosky, a University of Utah professor of law and expert on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender legal issues, was able to wed them before the ruling came down. Weiss, who also celebrated her birthday Monday, said the two were also eager to be wed for another reason: she’s 7 1/2 months pregnant.

“We really wanted to make sure that our child would be as protected as possible once he was born,” she said.

The case is significant both because it has cleared the way for same-sex marriages in a state dominated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which does not condone homosexuality, and because it could bring the issue to the Supreme Court.

“This case could decide the issue of same-sex marriage across the United States of America,” said Rosky, who is also chairman of the board of Equality Utah, a statewide LGBT rights organization.

Shelby’s ruling represents the first time a federal court has ruled on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Rosky said from the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office where he officiated the marriages of two same-sex couples, including that of Weiss and Espy.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Play Video
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.