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Utah Governor, AG Insist That Denying Marriage Equality Does Not Discriminate Against LGBT Citizens

This past June, three same-sex couples filed suit against the state of Utah, challenging its ban on marriage equality. Now, approximately a month and a half later, governor Gary Herbert and state attorney general John Swallow have issued their response, and not surprisingly, the two maintain that the state has a "sovereign right" to define and recognize marriages as it sees fit. What might prove surprising, though, is the fact that the brief seems to deny the existence of LGBT discrimination altogether. 

In the original lawsuit brought before the state, lawyers for the three couples asserted that "gay and lesbian individuals have faced a long and painful history of societal and government-sponsored discrimination in this country."  In the response, Swallow addresses this claim directly, stating that state officials are “without sufficient knowledge to admit or deny the allegations.” He also asserts that, while “marriage between a man and a woman is a constitutionally protected fundamental right,” banning same sex marriage does not discriminate against LGBT people, since they could just as easily decide to get married to someone of the opposite sex and enjoy all of the rights and priveleges that they were previously denied: 

"State Defendants affirmatively state that same-sex marriage has never been recognized in Utah. State Defendants admit that Utah law and its constitution define marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman and do not recognize same-sex marriages, among other types of marriages, performed in Utah or other jurisdictions. State Defendants admit that unmarried couples or groups of any kind—heterosexual, homosexual, polygamous, etc.—are not granted certain rights afforded married couples. Utah law, however, does not 'impair any contract or other rights, benefits, or duties that are enforceable' independently of being married. [...]

"Utah law prevents neither homosexuals nor lesbians from marrying. Homosexuals and lesbians may marry in Utah, but they face the same restriction heterosexuals do – they may not marry a person of the same sex. This restriction is not gender based – it applies equally to both males and females."

The above excerpt comes to us via ThinkProgress.

Utah CapitolForgetting the fact that Swallow could almost certainly find all the necessary evidence to remedy his willful ignorance on the web, officials from Utah Pride Center have nevertheless offered to help. According to Salt Lake Tribune, members such as Valerie Larabee, executive director, and Nikki Boyer, board president, took it upon themselves to deliver "copies of the Constitution and a related legal brief from the center to the offices of Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General John Swallow on Tuesday." Larabee also commented on Swallow's selective ignorance to the Tribune, referencing the many anti-LGBT hate crimes that have taken place in the state. "This response could be characterized as shockingly incompetent, especially for them not to know about Utah’s laws since they have the responsibility to execute and enforce these laws," she said.

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  1. "Utah law prevents neither Caucasians nor African-Americans from marrying. Caucasians and African-Americans may marry in Utah, but they may not marry a person of a different race. This restriction is not racially based – it applies equally to both Caucasians and African-Americans."


    Posted by: gr8guyca | Aug 14, 2013 2:41:21 PM

  2. Up is down. War is peace.

    Posted by: David | Aug 14, 2013 2:51:22 PM

  3. The Mormon bubble exists in Utah like no place else on Earth. The Utah governor is Mormon. Mormons believe in some pretty weird stuff far outside mainstream Christianity. However, one thing they do NOT believe in is SSM - period. End of story. Now move along, LGBTs. There's nothing to see here.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Aug 14, 2013 2:52:27 PM


    Separation of church and state. It's pretty disgusting how you would bludgeon the rights of others over some perverse religion when we live in a SECULAR society.

    Posted by: Anthony | Aug 14, 2013 2:57:57 PM

  5. same thing was said about blacks and whites marrying each other, they didn't prevent them from marrying, as long as they married someone of the same race, the same restrictions other races had, so its not discrimination.


    Posted by: danielw | Aug 14, 2013 2:58:35 PM

  6. How illogical!

    Posted by: Matt27 | Aug 14, 2013 2:59:24 PM

  7. Typical Mormon idiot. The *exact* same BS non-argument was used against interracial marriage. Read Perez v. Sharp from 1948(!) for some great counters

    Posted by: Steve | Aug 14, 2013 3:12:02 PM

  8. It's really too bad that the right to practice their made-up "religion" can't be put to a popular vote state by state. I think the Mormons might learn a valuable lesson about "the will of the people" were that to happen.

    Posted by: Caliban | Aug 14, 2013 3:18:22 PM

  9. The governor isn't very familiar with SCOTUS precedent:

    "A tax on wearing yarmulkes is a tax on Jews."

    Posted by: Matt N | Aug 14, 2013 3:37:55 PM

  10. I doubt Mr. Herbert has ever been discriminated against in his life. Clueless

    Posted by: Dave P | Aug 14, 2013 3:40:09 PM

  11. Yes it does.

    Posted by: Sean | Aug 14, 2013 3:45:49 PM

  12. You know with their heads in the sand and their a**es in the air, they're either really looking for a smashing good time or waiting to be made into Ostrich burgers.

    Posted by: woodroad34d | Aug 14, 2013 3:54:42 PM

  13. Oh not this again. This "logic" claiming it's not LGBT discrimination simply moves it into the realm of outright gender discrimination. Just have three citizens stand before the court: John (M), Linda (F), and Jim (M). Don't even address their orientation. The state saying it's OK for Linda to enter into a civil contract and marry John, but it's not OK for Jim to enter into a civil contract and marry John is sex discrimination based on gender.

    Posted by: Rexford | Aug 14, 2013 3:55:10 PM

  14. I'm kind of surprised no one made a comment about John "Swallow"'s last name... :)

    Posted by: MikeKV | Aug 14, 2013 3:57:18 PM

  15. The only reason that the State of Utah recognizes marriage as a union of one man and one woman is because the Federal government forced them too, as a condition for joining the Union. Maybe the Federal Government, namely the Supreme Court, will force them to recognize marriage as a union of two consenting adults.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 14, 2013 4:06:39 PM

  16. The only reason that the State of Utah recognizes marriage as a union of one man and one woman is because the Federal government forced them too, as a condition for joining the Union. Maybe the Federal Government, namely the Supreme Court, will force them to recognize marriage as a union of two consenting adults.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 14, 2013 4:06:40 PM

  17. Sorry, I don't know why that posted twice.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 14, 2013 4:11:10 PM

  18. so, homosexuals can choose whether or not to excercise their right to have a heterosexual marriage?

    being straight is a choice in utah?

    Posted by: raphinou | Aug 14, 2013 4:16:58 PM

  19. Here's what the California court that overturned that state's marriage ban before it was reinstated by Prop 8 had to say about that silly argument (somehow each idiot who comes up with it thinks he's so brilliant!):

    "In our view, it is sophistic to suggest that this conclusion is avoidable by reason of the circumstance that the marriage statutes permit a gay man or a lesbian to marry someone of the opposite sex, because making such a choice would require the negation of the person’s sexual orientation. Just as a statute that restricted marriage only to couples of the same sex would discriminate against heterosexual persons on the basis of their heterosexual orientation, the current California statutes realistically must be viewed as discriminating against gay persons on the basis of their homosexual orientation."

    Posted by: KevinVT | Aug 14, 2013 4:46:26 PM

  20. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz - ahh religion - the Opiate of the masses of the Easily brainwashed, or those who Can't or Won't think for themselves......In Our Galaxy, with BILLIONS of Stars/suns and planets, in a Universe with BILLIONS of Galaxies.....No sky God,He/She/It/Entity gives a ratz patooty what we humans do, let alone with our Pee-pees and VaJJ's......we are a mere spec of dust in the size and scope of the Universe......religion,a Man-Made concept - to keep the Sheeple/People..In Line, In FEAR,and those ever-flowing Coffers FULL, Ka-CHING $$$$$$...Science fact: There are More Stars/suns in the Universe- then there are ALL THE GRAINS OF SAND ON THE ENTIRE PLANET think some sky fairy gives a crap what we humans do with our pee-pee, or Vajj????? Really?!>?

    Posted by: disgusted american | Aug 14, 2013 4:47:34 PM

  21. Headline: "Utah governor, AG deny circles are round." The federal courts will dispose of these two twits in due course. Everybody in America now knows that the anti-marriage equality movement is living on borrowed time.

    Posted by: Jim | Aug 14, 2013 5:14:12 PM

  22. they got a Reverend Solomon problem!

    Posted by: billy | Aug 14, 2013 5:15:14 PM

  23. What do you expect, its mormonville utah.

    Posted by: Texanrob | Aug 14, 2013 5:38:56 PM

  24. Yes, Andrew, exactly. If they hadn't been so intent on becoming a state they wouldn't have had a very conveniently timed revelation from God, marriage there would be one man and as many women wearing shirtwaist dresses as he could get, and its name would be Deseret.

    Posted by: emjayay | Aug 14, 2013 5:59:41 PM

  25. Well of course persons identified as LGBT are not discriminated against in Utah, because in Utah there are no LGBT. They don't exist.

    Posted by: SFRowGuy | Aug 15, 2013 1:47:54 PM

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