The state of Utah is desperately trying to reverse last week’s surprise court ruling that legalised same-sex marriage.
On Friday, US District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that the state’s ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional “because it denies the Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution”.
His decision reversed a Utah ban on same-sex marriage and saw more than 100 gay and lesbian couples rushing to secure their marriage licenses.
On Sunday, the state requested an emergency suspension of Shelby’s ruling from a federal appeals court, which was rejected.
Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert slammed Shelby as an “activist federal judge attempting to override the will of the people of Utah”.
More than 65% of the state’s citizens voted in 2004 to define marriage as only being possible between a man and a woman in Utah.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin said that “Like many judges before him, Judge Shelby recognised the fundamental equality of gay and lesbian couples guaranteed by the United States Constitution”.
On Monday, Shelby will hear the state’s request to put same-sex marriages on hold until the appeal process is complete.
Utah, home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as the Mormon church), is considered a deeply conservative state.
The ruling comes on the heels of a year-long string of electoral, judicial and legislative victories for marriage equality in the US. Last week, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of granting marriage rights to same-sex couples.