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Rulings on Same-Sex Marriage in UT & OK May Put Pressure on SCOTUS

by Norris Law Group on January 20, 2014

The Deseret News reports that recent US Federal court rulings overturning bans on same-sex marriage in Utah and Oklahoma may add pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the issue sooner rather than later.

“The fact that several judges have adopted the same rationale probably bodes well for the U.S. Supreme Court eventually taking one of these cases, particularly if the 10th Circuit were to affirm either one of the judges,” said former Utah Supreme Court chief justice Michael Zimmerman.

Zimmerman said the equal protection ground is very broad and could set a precedent in other places because the reasoning isn’t limited to one state. Laws that define marriage as between a man and a woman may not fare any better than Utah’s did if challenged in court, he said.

“The more judges who adopt that analysis, the more pressure it puts on the U.S. Supreme Court to address that analysis,” said Zimmerman, now an appellate lawyer in private practice.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban in December citing a 2013 US Supreme Court ruling which found that part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Judge Terence Kern, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled that state’s voter-approved gay marriage ban unconstitutional based on the same argument.

Kern also referenced Shelby’s opinion that same couples are not seeking a “new” right to marry but an “fundamental right” guaranteed in the US Constitution.

On January 6, 2014, the US Supreme Court ordered a halt on all gay marriages in Utah until they can address the issue. Judge Kern immediately put a hold on his own ruling.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of divorce. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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