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Gay couples' rush to marry in Utah grinds to halt

BY BRADY MCCOMBS AND MARK SHERMAN
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SALT LAKE CITY -- More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples in Utah have exchanged wedding vows over the past two weeks in jubilant celebrations — but the rush on same-sex marriage licenses has come to an end.

The U.S. Supreme Court put a halt to them Monday by granting the state of Utah a stay on a federal judge's ruling that two other courts previously denied. The decision drew cheers from Gov. Gary Herbert and other state officials, who immediately instructed county clerks to stop marrying gay and lesbian couples. In Utah's largest county, four couples were turned away.

The justices did not rule on the merits of the case or on same-sex marriage bans in general, leaving both sides confident they'll ultimately win. The decision stays in effect while the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers the long-term question of whether gay couples have a right to wed in Utah.

Meanwhile, hundreds of newly married couples were thrown into legal and emotional limbo by the decision. Legal scholars say their marriage licenses will be honored by the federal government, but Utah officials are trying to determine whether the marriages that have already taken place are still valid.

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