SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Some county clerks in Utah refused Tuesday to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, even though they could face legal consequences after a judge stuck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The Utah attorney general’s office warned counties they could be in contempt of federal court if they refuse to issue the licenses.
At the same time, state lawyers asked a federal appeals court to halt the judge’s ruling and stop any more same-sex marriages.
It’s created a confusing set of circumstances for clerks, gay couples and anyone watching the state’s reaction to the surprise ruling Friday.
More than 700 same-sex couples married in Utah since Friday.
Among those refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay couples is Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson, who said he was waiting for the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on Utah’s motion for a stay before deciding his next move. The court is considering arguments and could rule at any time.
A lesbian couple filed a lawsuit Monday against Utah County because of its refusal, but Thompson said he was remaining steadfast against giving up any licenses to any same-sex couples.
“Until I receive further information, the Utah County Clerk’s Office will not be making any policy changes in regards to which we issue marriage licenses,” Thompson said Tuesday.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office, Ryan Bruckman, said the office was not giving legal guidance to clerks’ offices.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said prosecution of county clerks is unlikely. The holdouts wouldn’t face sanctions unless the plaintiffs who sued Utah asked the judge for a contempt finding, said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney David Barlow.