SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is going directly to the nation's highest court to challenge an appellate ruling that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, the state Attorney General's Office said Wednesday.
If the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take the case, it will be the first time it considers gay marriage since justices last year struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Utah's appeal is of a June 25 ruling from a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which found states cannot deprive people of the right to marry simply because they choose partners of the same sex. The panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about Virginia's ban in early May, and a ruling is expected soon. Arguments are scheduled for August and September in two different courts for cases out of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada and Idaho.
The Supreme Court's landmark ruling last summer allowed married same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as other married people, but did not address whether gay marriage is a constitutional right.
Since then, lower courts have repeatedly cited the decision when striking down gay marriage bans. The latest such ruling was Wednesday, when a state judge struck down Colorado's ban. That ruling is on hold pending an appeal.