Utah asks high court to block gay marriage

Utah officials have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt same-sex marriages, less than two weeks after a federal judge ruled that gay couples could wed in the state.

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An emergency appeal was filed Tuesday to overturn a decision that has led to more than 900 gay marriages in Utah. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who handles emergency requests from Utah and other Rocky Mountain states, can rule herself or refer the matter to the entire court.

Sotomayor ordered the group of same-sex couples who brought the legal challenge to respond to the state's appeal by noon Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down Utah's gay marriage ban on Dec. 20, saying it was a violation of the U.S. Constitution's due process and equal protection clauses.