American top court temporarily halts gay marriage in Utah.http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/newsdetails/news/world/Gay-marriage-temporarily-suspended-in-US-state-20140107
Tuesday 7 January 2014 - 08:47
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked same-sex marriages in Utah, less than three weeks after they were approved by a lower court.
The court issued a brief order on Monday blocking any new same-sex unions in the state.
The ruling comes after a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby on 20th December, declaring that the state's ban on same-sex marriage violates gay and lesbian couples' constitutional rights.
The decision, in one of the country's most conservative states, touched off a flurry of court filings as some jurisdictions started issuing marriage licenses.
More than 900 gay and lesbian couples have married since the Dec. 20 ruling.
But the action by the Supreme Court means that gay weddings in the heavily Mormon state are on hold for now while the case is appealed to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The action now shifts to Denver, where the appeals court will consider arguments from the state against same-sex marriage as well as from the three gay and lesbian couples who challenged the ban in support of Shelby's ruling. The appeals court had twice rebuffed the state's plea to stop gay weddings pending appeal.
Utah become the 18th state – at least temporarily – where gay marriage was permitted after a district judge sided with three same-sex couples who challenged the Utah state constitution that defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
Utah changed its constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage in 2004.