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Utah Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Overturned

by Norris Law Group on January 24, 2014

FoxNews reported  on December 21 that a federal judge declared Utah’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby said in a 53-page ruling that Utah’s 2004 law passed by nearly 70% of voters violates the rights of same-sex couples’ to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

Shelby also said that Utah failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way, writing “In the absence of such evidence, the State’s unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the State’s refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens.”

In response, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said, “I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah…I am working with my legal counsel and the acting attorney general to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.”

Utah’s lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples. One of the couples was legally married in Iowa and just wants that license recognized in Utah.

In a lengthy hearing earlier this month in Salt Lake City, attorneys for the state argued that Utah’s law promotes the state’s interest in “responsible procreation” and the “optimal mode of child-rearing,” asserting that it is not for the court to determine how any state defines marriage. Attorneys for the state of Utah also argued that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 does not give same-sex couples the universal right to marry.

This ruling resulted in a rush of same-sex couples to Utah courthouses seeking marriage licenses. While approximately 1300 same-sex couples married in the period between December 20 and January 6, the US Supreme Court ordered a halt on all gay marriages in Utah on January 6 until they can rule on the issue.

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