The terse order, from the full court, issued a stay “pending final disposition” of an appeal to the federal appeals court in Denver. It offered no reasoning.
The Supreme Court acted more than two weeks after a federal judge in Salt Lake City on Dec. 20 struck downUtah’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying it violated principles of equal protection and due process. Judge Robert J. Shelby of Federal District Court refused to stay his decision while it was appealed, as did the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver.
Judge Shelby’s decision made Utah the 18th state, along with the District of Columbia, to allow same-sex marriages, and many hundreds of gay and lesbian couples have married there in the intervening weeks. Should a higher court ultimately reverse Judge Shelby’s ruling, it is not clear what would happen to those marriages.