Nearly 1,000 gay and lesbian couples have purchased wedding licenses from the state of Utah since a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages December 20. Utah might seem an unlikely state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, given that its population is heavily Mormon—62.2 percent according to recent tallies—a group broadly opposed to homosexuality. Utah officials who oppose the recent ruling are set to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for a review.
A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of American Mormons believe that homosexuality should be discouraged by society, while only about one-quarter (26 percent) of Mormons believe homosexuality should be accepted. The views of Mormons are roughly similar to those of white evangelical Protestants — a group that strongly opposes same-sex marriage.
When filed by Utah state officials, the emergency appeal to the ruling will land on Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s desk. She will then have the option of either deciding the case herself, or referring to the full court for a judgment. Given the high-profile nature of the DOMA case decided by the Supreme Court earlier this year, legal analysts cited by CNN and other news outlets expect Sotomayor will defer to the full court for a ruling, which will certainly affect similar state laws on same-sex marriages across the country.