Gay Marriage Ban Overturned in Colorado, But Utah Just Made Things Really Interesting

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42-60215000 Photo: Rick Bowmer/Corbis

A district Court judge in Colorado threw out the state's eight-year-old gay marriage ban yesterday, writing in his ruling that the law "bears no rational relationship to any conceivable government interest." Celebration in the Centennial State was tempered because the judge also immediately issued a stay on his ruling, preventing licenses from being issued to gay couples pending appeal. The stay, he said, was necessary "to avoid the instability and uncertainty which would result" without it.

Judge C. Scott Crabtree seems to want a ruling from a higher court to clarify the issue and he might get his wish sooner rather than later. On Wednesday, officials in Utah announced plans to ask the Supreme Court to hear its appeal of a circuit court decision against the state's gay marriage ban. That decision came just two weeks ago, when the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said Utah's ban was unconstitutional. Judges cited both the 14th Amendment and last year's Supreme Court DOMA decision in ruling against the ban. 

Now the decision whether or not to hear Utah's appeal lies with SCOTUS. Talking Points Memo spoke to several experts who expect to see the case on next year's docket even though every ruling on the matter since the DOMA decision has been on the side of equality. "Perhaps without a split in the lower courts, the Supreme Court will wait," U.C. Irvine School of Law dean Erwin Chemerinsky told TPM. "My prediction, though, is that the Court knows the issue needs to be resolved and will take it."

Then the discussion turns to how the court would rule, and most think it wouldn't end well for Utah. Especially considering Justice Anthony Kennedy, so often the swing vote on this court, has been called the "first gay Justice."