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Supreme Court asked to permit same-sex marriage in Utah

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
updated 12:39 PM EST, Fri January 3, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued injunction on Tuesday
  • Utah sought relief from lower court ruling allowing same-sex marriages
  • Any Supreme Court action would be temporary as appeals continue to play out

(CNN) -- Lawyers for a group of gay and lesbian couples in Utah have asked the Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriages to continue in the state, following a federal judge's ruling that found a law there banning the practice unconstitutional.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an emergency injunction on Tuesday, but was expected to issue an order as early as Friday afternoon on whether to grant the state's request for an injunction to temporarily halt same-sex unions.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby struck down the statute as unconstitutional on December 20, and the state then asked the high court to block enforcement of that decision.

Shelby said the law "conflicts with the United States Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law."

The issue on enforcement is tricky since hundreds of marriage licenses have already been issued by some Utah counties in the nearly two weeks since the decision was announced.

Voters there approved a law banning same-sex marriage in 2004.

Any action from the high court on the enforcement question would be temporary and not offer the final word on the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

A Denver-based federal appeals court will take up the larger issues on an expedited basis in coming weeks, but in the meantime has allowed those marriages to continue.

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