Utah Supreme Court Grants Stay in Same-Sex Adoption Cases
SALT LAKE CITY May 17, 2014– The Utah Supreme Court issued a stay of several district court judges’ orders to the Utah Department of Health, which required issuance of birth certificates in same-sex parent adoptions. The stay was granted in response to the Utah Attorney General’s Office filing a Petition for Emergency Relief as counsel for the Department seeking legal certainty and clarity about whether district court orders violate other aspects of current Utah law. The stay will remain in effect until the issue has been fully briefed by the parties and resolved by the Court.
The stay prevents further confusion as the district court order required the Department to list same-sex parents as the legal parents of an adoptive child. The Department sought clarification because the court orders appear to conflict with Utah law currently in effect, which prohibits the state and any state entities from recognizing same-sex marriages. The Utah Supreme Court has not yet announced a date for oral arguments.
The stay appears to apply to a pending Order to Show Cause from one judge requiring two officials from the Department and the Attorney General to explain why the Department had not yet complied with the district court’s order. If further clarification is needed on that issue, the Attorney General’s Office will request it.
Today’s stay indicates that the Utah Supreme Court recognizes the importance of resolving any legal confusion regarding these matters and the Attorney General’s Office is encouraged that it will be able to present the Department’s full arguments to the Court so that these issues may be resolved to give people who seek adoption and the Department clarity on the issues.