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Sunday May 29th, 2016 5:43AM

Utah Supreme Court halts same-sex adoption cases

By The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Utah Supreme Court has ordered a temporary halt of several district judges' orders requiring the Utah Department of Health to issue birth certificates in same-sex parent adoptions.

The stay was granted Friday night in response to a Utah Attorney General's Office request for clarity on whether the department can issue the birth certificates if directed by court order.

The attorney general's office praised the decision, saying the stay will remain in effect until the issue has been resolved by the court. The court has not yet announced a date for oral arguments.

The stay appears to apply to a district judge's order requiring Attorney General Sean Reyes and two top health officials to explain the state's refusal to recognize a same-sex couple's adoption, the attorney general's office said.

Third District Judge Andrew Stone ordered the officials to appear at a June 16 hearing to show why they should not be held in contempt for what he called "their willful disregard and refusal" to honor the adoption.

Stone's order, dated May 7, does not identify the child or the two women who adopted the child. The two were among more than 1,000 gay and lesbian partners who married after a federal judge overturned Utah's same-sex marriage ban Dec. 20.

Those weddings stopped Jan. 6 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay, prompting the attorney general's office to maintain adoptions also should be on hold.

"The stay prevents further confusion as the district court order required the (health) 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 is encouraged that it will be able to 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."
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