“The legal status of these marriages remains in doubt,” UCLA constitutional law professor Adam Winkler told us. “There’s no controlling law that determines the fate of these marriages.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling stays a judge’s decision from Dec. 20 that found Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. No more gays will be able to get married in Utah until a federal appeals court affirms the judge’s decision, which effectively made same-sex marriage legal in the state for a few days.
But what about the gays who rushed to the alter while same-sex marriage was legal? As of Dec. 23, nearly 700 gay couples had gotten marriage licenses in the state — with couples getting hitched in the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office every few minutes, the Associated Press reported.
While it’s not clear what will happen to those marriages, there is a chance that Utah will let same-sex couples remain married even if the right is taken away again. From an email that UCLA law professor Adam Winkler sent:
It’s politically very difficult to say to couples, who’ve followed the law, that they can no longer enjoy the benefits of marriage.
This question will have to be decided first by Utah State officials. They will have to decide how they’re going to treat these marriages. If officials do nothing these marriages will remain legal.
If state officials say the couples are no longer married, the question will certainly go to the courts.
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