(Photo: REUTERS/Jim Urquhart)
Social conservative groups expressed approval at the United States Supreme Court's decision to halt gay marriage ceremonies in Utah after a judge declared the state's ban unconstitutional.
The highest court in the U.S. put a halt to the marriages on Monday as the decision that removed the ban is being appealed.
In a statement released Monday, the National Organization for Marriage "commended" the Court's decision to halt the unions.
"It was outrageous that this brazen judge appointed by President Obama would substitute his views for the sovereign decision made by both the Utah legislature and the people of the state," said Brian Brown, president of NOM.
"The decision by a single federal judge to redefine marriage in Utah is lawless, and we are pleased that the Supreme Court has put this decision on hold to allow the state to appeal it in an orderly fashion."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, issued a statement arguing that the stay in the gay marriages was consistent with last year's Supreme Court decision Windsor v. United States, which ruled a major component of the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
"The Supreme Court has today signaled that it will not allow state laws defining marriage to be set aside by a lone judge without a careful consideration of the issues involved," said Perkins.
"The issuance of a stay is consistent with the Court's ruling last year in Windsor v. United States, in which they affirmed that states have the 'historic and essential authority to define the marital relation' and condemned federal efforts 'to influence or interfere with state sovereign choices about who may be married.'"
Perkins added that his group "plans to support Utah in its appeal of this case to the Tenth Circuit with a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the definition of marriage adopted by the people of Utah."
Last month, Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Immediately following the ruling, hundreds of gay couples in Utah proceeded to get married even though the state filed an appeal.
Shelby's decision stirred the ire of many groups, including the conservative legal organization the Liberty Counsel, which released a statement Monday calling the decision "outrageous."
"It is outrageous that a single, activist, federal judge thinks he has the power to rewrite the definition of marriage and then force his oxymoronic definition on the people of Utah," stated Liberty Counsel.
"Marriage is not just an emotional bond between two people memorialized by a legal document. It is an institution ordained of God to rightly order procreation and provide the best environment for the well-being of children."