Last month, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional Virginia’s same sex marriage ban. This week, however, the Supreme Court put a hold on that ruling, meaning that for the time being gay marriages are blocked in Virginia:

While nearly all federal and state courts have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage since the high court issued two landmark decisions in June 2013, judges have blocked nearly all such marriages while the cases are appealed. The justices had stepped in once before, in Utah, to do just that.

If the court declines to hear the Virginia appeal, the stay would be lifted and couples could begin getting married. Otherwise, those marriages would have to wait until the case is ultimately decided.

“The Supreme Court is making clear, as it already did in the Utah marriage case, that it believes a dignified process is better than disorder,” said Byron Babione, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents the Virginia court clerk opposed to same-sex marriage.

Virginia Attorney General Mike Herring, who has decided not to support the new ban, actually asked the Supreme Court to issue a stay on the Fourth Circuit’s ruling, citing concerns over the impact an eventual negative ruling could have on families and businesses.


“I believe the district and appeals courts ruled correctly in striking down Virginia’s discriminatory marriage ban, but it has long been clear that the Supreme Court will likely have the final word. I want that decision to come as soon as possible and I want the voices of Virginians to be heard,” Herring said in a statement.

The case out of Utah is similar to that of Virginia in that the Supreme Court issued a stay on a previous ruling overturning the state’s same sex marriage ban. Via the ABA Journal:

The order applies to so-called “interim marriages” entered into after a federal judge struck down the ban on Dec. 20 and the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the decision pending appeal on Jan. 6, report the New York Times, the Salt Lake Tribune and SCOTUSblog. The new stay (PDF) was issued in a case on the status of those marriages.

Utah plans to appeal a ruling handed down by the Tenth Circuit from earlier this summer that overturned Utah’s same sex marriage ban. In its brief, the State questioned the proposition that marriage is a fundamental right, and said that “Constitutional rights do not spring into existence by mass social activity triggered by the unreviewed decision of a single district court judge.”

The justices will meet in September to begin discussion on the various petitions for review that the Court has fielded throughout the summer recess.