Utah's 1,300 legal gay marriages appealed by the state

WikimediaUtah Gov. Gary Herbert

Utah filed an appeal Wednesday challenging the legality of the more than 1,300 gay marriages that were granted between December 20 and January 6.

Gov. Gary Herbert and State Attorney General Sean Reyes filed the notice protesting the May 19 ruling that the marriages must be recognized.

Utah's 2004 gay marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional in a December 20, 2013 federal ruling. Over 1,300 same-sex marriages were legalized before a stay on the decision was issued on January 6. The fiasco has been cited by other states in request for stays in similar cases.

An appeal on the December decision is pending in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

On May 19, U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball ruled that the same-sex marriages that were granted during that 17-day window are legal, and will remain so even if the state's gay marriage ban is reinstated.

The state's appeal was filed four days before the deadline – a decision criticized by the plaintiff's attorney, John Mejia of the Utah ACLU.

"That doesn't give us much time to respond [or] the 10th Circuit much time to think about it," he told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Mejia also expressed disappointment that the state filed an appeal at all.

"We had hoped that [the state] would stop on their unprecedented and ill-advised campaign, which we believe is a big waste of taxpayer dollars, to fight recognition of these marriages," he said.

Gov. Herbert, however, feels obligated to defend the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban.

"For elected officials, governors or attorney generals, to pick and choose what laws [they] will enforce I think is a tragedy, and is the next step to anarchy," he said in a news conference two weeks ago.

"We have an obligation as a state to defend those laws."