Utah Same-Sex Marriage Debate Harkens Back to “Loving”

by Norris Law Group on May 20, 2014

Utah Same-Sex Marriage Debate Harkens Back to “Loving”On April 13, 2014, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that a 47-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision centering on interracial marriage has been referenced in the Utah same-sex marriage debate.

In Loving v. Virginia, Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a black woman—both U.S. citizens and residents of the state of Virginia—married in Washington, D.C. , in 1958. At that time, their marriage would have been illegal in Virginia. Upon returning home to Virginia, they were arrested and incarcerated. They eventually pled guilty to violating Virginia’s “Racial Integrity Act of 1924.” After a nine-year court battle, the Lovings were exonerated when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that all state marriage bans based on race must be stopped.

While hearing legal arguments from both sides in the Utah same-sex marriage case on April 10, a 10th Circuit Judge mentioned the Loving case by asking a lawyer representing the state of Utah whether gender differences are dissimilar from racial differences when considered in the context of the right to marry.

Gene C. Schaerr, attorney for Utah, responded that the SCOTUS’s decision in Loving v. Virginia “didn’t intrude into the state of Virginia’s definitional authority over marriage. The exclusion of mixed-race couples was a regulatory exclusion…The whole presumption in Loving was talking about man-woman marriage…[which is] fundamental to procreating and maintaining the human race.”

In arguments during Loving v. Virginia, the state of Virginia maintained that that the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 was valid because it treated both whites and blacks equally. Utah makes a similar argument that Amendment 3 prohibits marriage between gays and lesbians equally.

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 and family law. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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