The Utah Supreme Court on Friday night ordered a temporary halt to orders by several district courts that require the state's health department to issue birth certificates in same-sex parent adoptions.
The stay was granted in response to a petition filed by the Utah Attorney General's Office seeking certainty and clarity over whether the Utah Department of Health can issue the birth certificates if directed by court order, according to The Associated Press.
"The stay prevents further confusion as the district court order required the department to list same-sex parents as the legal parents of an adoptive child," the attorney general's office said in a statement. "The department sought clarification because the court orders appear to conflict with Utah law currently in effect, which prohibits the state and any state entities from recognizing same-sex marriages."
The attorney general's office said it is encouraged that it can now present the department's full arguments to the court "so that these issues may be resolved to give people who seek adoption and the department clarity on the issues."
Third District Judges Elizabeth Hruby-Mills and Andrew Stone gave their approval to adoptions among same-sex couples who were married in the state between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6 when gay marriage became legal after a federal judge overturned Utah's Amendment 3 which bans same-sex marriage.
"There should not be any adoptions until the Supreme Court has ruled," Fox 13 quoted Gayle Ruzika of the conservative group Utah Eagle Forum as saying. "The decision was a wise decision, it should have been the same with marriages."
However, Deann Armes of the Utah Pride Center said, "District judges were ordered by the state to grant these adoptions to gay couples that were already married, so to take that away is very hurtful and frustrating for families."
"Two men cannot create a mother and a father no matter how hard they try, two men can't be a mother and two women can't be a father," Ruzika added.
Federal judges in several states have struck down state amendments and laws banning gay marriage as unconstitutional ever since the U.S. Supreme Court last June squashed a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. They have revoked bans also in Michigan, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia, and ordered Kentucky and Tennessee to recognize out-of-state gay marriages. However, stays have been issued pending appeals.
Same-sex marriage is currently recognized in 17 states – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – and the District of Columbia.