Federal court sets deadline for appeal in same-sex marriage recognition case

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DENVER — A federal appeals court has given the state of Utah a deadline to file its first papers in the legal fight over same-sex marriage recognition.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave the Utah Attorney General’s Office until Sept. 22 to file its brief. The quick deadline appears to set a speedy schedule to hear the case involving more than 1,200 same-sex marriages performed after Amendment 3 was overturned last year.

The ACLU of Utah sued on behalf of four legally married same-sex couples who say the state — under orders from Governor Gary Herbert — is denying them benefits provided to married heterosexual couples.

The state is appealing a federal judge’s ruling in Salt Lake City earlier this year that ordered the state to recognize the marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court halted a deadline that would have forced the state to provide benefits to married same-sex couples, pending the appeal.

The U.S. Supreme Court is already being asked to consider the case that overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. A decision on whether the nation’s top court would consider the case could come by October.