SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples who married in Utah after the state same-sex marriage ban was overturned could get benefits in 10 days after a favorable ruling from a federal appeals court.
Five months after the ban was struck down, a different federal judge in May ruled the state must lift its ban on benefits – such as child custody – for same-sex couples.
The state asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to delay the benefits while the larger issue of the marriage ban makes its way through the courts.
On Friday, the 10th Circuit denied Utah’s request for an indefinite delay. Instead, justices gave them until July 21 to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office said in a news release Friday it plans to ask the Supreme Court to extend the stay to avoid “uncertainty” for the couples.
This case is separate from the ongoing judicial review of the constitutionality of the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The 10th Circuit recently upheld a December opinion from a federal judge in Utah who overturned the ban. Utah state officials plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The gay and lesbian couples awaiting benefits tied the knot during the 17-day window when same-sex marriages were legal. The U.S. Supreme Court brought them to a halt.
Utah officials argued they had no choice but to hold off on benefits until an appeals court ruled on same-sex marriage. That triggered a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four couples.