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High court's halt to gay marriage doesn't discourage Utah plaintiffs

By Richard Piatt  |  Posted Jan 6th, 2014 @ 6:29pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — There's no question that the U.S. Supreme Court's Monday ruling to place a stay on gay marriages in Utah is causing some confusion. But for those at the heart of the case, this is just one step on a big ladder, and they're not discouraged.

As plaintiffs in the case that legalized gay marriage in Utah for 17 days, Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity are in the middle of a legal whirlwind — but they're not complaining. The two are committed in the battle over same-sex marriage no matter what happens, and Monday morning's ruling doesn't change that.

"The emotion is kind of the micro view. We're really emotional and kind of upset about it, but in the end we didn't get into this case with the expectation that it would be resolved quickly. We had a hunch that it would take some time," Kitchen said.

Like many same-sex couples, their initial reaction to the stay was surprise, tinged with anger and confusion. Now they have a more confident attitude about the state of their case.

"I think in the end we will win, at the Supreme Court. And I think this is just a technicality," Sbeity said. A Supreme Court stay does put new same-sex marriages on hold, but according to attorney Troy Booher the action itself is not an indicator of where the case is headed one way or the other.

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"There's almost no tea leaves in the Supreme Court's order from which you can make any inferences about what they're thinking," Booher said.

Until the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals hears the case — March at the earliest — the still unmarried couple at the heart of the debate will stay in the limelight.

"We don't mind being in the spotlight for the sake of everybody else. It's not something we either like or hate, it's just something that has to be done," Sbeity said.

Now their case is headed to the 10 Circuit Court of Appeals, and likely on to the Supreme court after that.

So for now, it's a waiting game not only for Kitchen and Sbeity, but for the hundreds of same-sex couples who have gotten married in Utah over the last two weeks.

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