Utah scrambles to stop gay marriages, as couples line up

gay marriage

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Thousands protest against Prop 8 outside the Utah headquarters of the Church of Latter-Day Saints in 2008.

In Utah, there's a scramble by same-sex couples to pick up marriage licenses before the state asks a federal judge to set aside a ruling that invalidated the state's ban on gay marriage.

"Couples began lining up at county courthouses in snowy, cold weather overnight, after a federal appeals court in Denver declined to issue an emergency stay," NPR's Howard Berkes tells our Newscast unit. "Attorneys for the state will be back in federal court this morning to plead with U.S. District Court judge Robert Shelby to halt the same-sex marriages until they get an appeal filed and considered."

As we've reported, in his ruling Shelby said the constitutional amendment, which voters in the predominately Mormon state passed overwhelmingly in 2004, irrationally demeans the dignity of same-sex couples.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that later this morning, Utah will argue that if Judge Shelby allows his ruling to stand while the state appeals, it could cause irreparable harm to same-sex couples. The state argues that if Shelby's ruling is overturned by a higher court, it will then leave those same-sex couples who married in Utah under a "cloud of uncertainty."

Still, this morning, the paper reports the lines at clerk's offices across the state were long:

 

 

"At the Salt Lake County clerk's office, the line for marriages wrapped around two floors, and there was an audible cheer when the door finally opened

"In Weber County, the first couple in line included a minister who had pushed to the front so he could get married and then officiate for others.

"Meanwhile, in Utah County, the clerk's office was not issuing same-sex marriage licenses, and turned away one couple."

 

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