The U.S. Supreme Court entered a stay today ensuring that Utah will not be forced to issue marriage licenses to people in same-sex relationships in the immediate future as the state continues to defend its law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

“The states remain free—and should continue to remain free—to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Today’s announcement from the Supreme Court is therefore welcome,” says Ryan T. Anderson, Heritage Foundation’s William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society.

Last month federal judge Robert Shelby ruled that Utah’s 2004 marriage amendment (which was approved by voters) was unconstitutional, writing that, “[T]he court holds that Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law.”  Shelby wouldn’t give Utah the stay required to allow the state to continue defining marriage as the union of a man and woman as the matter winds its way through the courts.

“One district judge should not be able to misread the Court’s recent decisions and force any state to act contrary to the meaning and purpose of marriage,” Anderson adds. “At the very least, the issue is too important to force a state to change its laws without federal appeals court input.  Ultimately, the U.S. Constitution does not require redefining marriage.”

Since Shelby’s December ruling, more than 900 same-sex couples have married in Utah, according to the Associated Press.

“Whatever one thinks about marriage, the courts shouldn’t be redefining it,” says Anderson. “America should make marriage policy through the democratic process rather than allowing judges to dictate it through decisions that have no grounding in our Constitution.”