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Utah AG appealing directly to US Supreme Court in gay marriage case, skipping appeals court

Posted: 1:28 PM, Jul 09, 2014
Updated: 2014-07-09 23:52:09-04
Utah AG appealing directly to US Supreme Court in gay marriage case, skipping appeals court

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Attorney General's Office said it intends to take its appeal of Utah's ban on same-sex marriage directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a statement to FOX 13 on Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said his office would not seek a review of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that declared Amendment 3 unconstitutional.

Read the statement from the Utah Attorney General's Office:

"To obtain clarity and resolution from the highest court, the Utah Attorney General's Office will not seek en banc review of the Kitchen v. Herbert Tenth Circuit decision, but will file a Petition for Writ of Certioari to the United States Supreme Court in the coming weeks. Attorney General Reyes has a sworn duty to defend the laws of our state.  Utah's Constitutional Amendment 3 is presumed to be constitutional unless the highest court deems otherwise."

MORE: Follow the Amendment 3 case from the start 

Peggy Tomsic, the attorney for the three gay couples who sued Utah over Amendment 3, told FOX 13 she was disappointed in the state's decision to appeal, but would begin preparing to fight it.

"In terms of the decision to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, our objective from day one is to expeditiously resolve this case so we can bring equality and fairness back to same-sex couples and their families," she said.

Tomsic said the case could potentially be heard on the U.S. Supreme Court's fall term, with a decision by next year. Other court observers have said it would likely be next year before arguments are heard with a ruling in June 2015.

If the nation's top court were to hear the Amendment 3 case, it could decide same-sex marriage for the rest of the nation.

Amendment 3 passed in 2004 with 66-percent of the vote, defining marriage in Utah as between a man and a woman, and refusing to recognize any other type of union. Three same-sex couples challenged it. On Dec. 20, 2013, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled Amendment 3 was unconstitutional.

For 17 days, more than 1,200 same-sex couples married in Utah until the U.S. Supreme Court halted it pending an appeal.

A detailed account of same-sex marriages performed in Utah's 29 counties during the 17-days it was allowed.

A detailed account of same-sex marriages performed in Utah's 29 counties during the 17-days it was allowed.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in April over Utah's appeal. In June, the federal appeals court upheld the Shelby decision -- declaring Amendment 3 unconstitutional again.

The appeals court granted a stay on any more same-sex marriages while Utah considered going to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the court were to decline to consider Utah's case, the decision by the 10th Circuit Court would stand -- striking down same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma.

LGBT activists deliver a petition to the Governor's Mansion urging him to drop the Amendment 3 appeal.

LGBT activists deliver a petition to the Governor's Mansion urging him to drop the Amendment 3 appeal.

Coincidentally, the decision came as several dozen gay rights activists were hand-delivering a 3,800-signature petition to the Governor's Mansion, asking Utah Governor Gary Herbert to drop any appeals of Amendment 3.

The decision was greeted with mixed feelings from married same-sex couples.

"We want our family to be legitimized in this state," said Candice Green, who married her wife, Megan Barrett, the day Amendment 3 was declared unconstitutional on Dec. 20, 2013.

Others, like Sophia Hawes-Tingey, said it could legalize same-sex marriage for the United States.

"You know what? At this point, Sean Reyes vowed he was going to spend $2 million to fight same-sex marriage. That $2 million might give same-sex marriage across the U.S.," she said. "That would make me thankful for this."

MORE: Follow the Amendment 3 case from the start here