Gay Marriage | News | Utah

Federal Judge Strikes Down Utah's Gay Marriage Ban, Effectively Legalizes Gay Marriage


A federal judge in Utah has struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, declaring the ban violates both equal protection and due process, guarantees safeguarded in the U.S. Constitution, according to The Salt Lake Tribune:

"The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason," wrote U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby. "Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional."

Shelby’s ruling came just 16 days after he heard arguments in the case and well before his self-imposed deadline to render a decision by Jan. 7, when the next hearing in the matter was to be held.

Capitol"It feels unreal," said Moudi Sbeity, who with his partner Derek L. Kitchen were plaintiffs in the case. "I’m just very thrilled that Derek and I will be able to get married soon, if all goes well and the state doesn’t appeal. We want a farmer’s market wedding because it’s where we spend a lot of time."

Shelby said that while he agreed with Utah that marriage has traditionally been left to regulation by the states, such laws must comply with the Constitution.

"The issue the court must address in this case is not who should define marriage, but the narrow question of whether Utah’s current definition of marriage is permissible under the Constitution," the judge said.

Shelby acknowledged the politically charged climate that surrounds the issue and said that was particularly true in Utah, where 66 percent of voters approved the amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2004.

"It is only under exceptional circumstances that a court interferes with such action," Shelby said. "But the legal issues presented in this lawsuit do not depend on whether Utah’s laws were the result of its legislature or a referendum, or whether the laws passed by the widest or smallest of margins."

From Shannon Price Minter at The National Center for Lesbian Rights:

"This is the first decision since Perry--and the first after Windsor--striking down a marriage ban under the federal constitution. The judge did not stay his decision, so same-sex couples in Utah are applying for marriage licenses now."

Read the full decision AFTER THE JUMP...

(Photo via Twitter)


Utah Marriage Decision

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  1. Wow, Utah of all states! Maybe the Mormons will get so mad some transporter beam will spontaneously appear and zap them all over to Kolob!

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Dec 20, 2013 5:02:40 PM

  2. Wow, the wrap up to this year gets better and better.

    Posted by: Tyler | Dec 20, 2013 5:04:57 PM

  3. OMGAWDDD.. UTAH wow.

    Posted by: Andy Towlette | Dec 20, 2013 5:05:48 PM

  4. Bravo Judge Shelby!

    Nailed it. Perfectly. Regulation of marriage is states right but must be within US Constitution guarantees of equality.

    'The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason.'

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Dec 20, 2013 5:08:41 PM

  5. Perhaps it will encourage more red states to take their cases to the court. It is difficult to see how the court can rule otherwise.

    Posted by: simon | Dec 20, 2013 5:09:46 PM

  6. LOL, what @ECHTKULTIG said! :-)

    Posted by: Ron | Dec 20, 2013 5:10:40 PM

  7. Wow.

    Posted by: Zlick | Dec 20, 2013 5:11:03 PM


    Posted by: Andy Towlette | Dec 20, 2013 5:11:31 PM

  9. Wow, just wow. I need to sit down and digest this one.

    Posted by: Rafael | Dec 20, 2013 5:14:30 PM

  10. Now, Brian... take the gun out of your mouth.
    Everything will be ok.
    You can still take your eight kids and move to Russia or Saudi Arabia or North Korea where your views are supported by the governments and courts.

    Posted by: woody | Dec 20, 2013 5:14:56 PM

  11. So what exactly does this mean? Can people get married immediately? Will there be a hold on the ruling until the appeals process is completed?

    Posted by: Greg | Dec 20, 2013 5:16:46 PM

  12. I had to look at the calendar to make sure this wasn't April 1st.

    Posted by: Lexis | Dec 20, 2013 5:17:47 PM

  13. First New Mexico, now Utah. Brian Brown seems to have disappeared and is strangely silent.
    May be he is planning to get out of the business of marriage. Things are really getting tough for him.

    Posted by: simon | Dec 20, 2013 5:18:26 PM

  14. This was Judge Shelby's moment of courage and he was up to the task. He didn't let irrational prejudices sway him from seeing to it that everyone in his care has the same legal standing and protections.

    Thank you Judge Shelby!

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Dec 20, 2013 5:18:31 PM

  15. He did not stay his decision pending an appeal, though the state will likey appeal according to the salt lake tribune. People can apply for marriage licenses now, so weddings should follow relatively quickly.
    Ah... Utah... it's feeling like the fat lady has sung!

    Posted by: woody | Dec 20, 2013 5:20:19 PM

  16. Thanks, Woody! Wow, what amazing news!

    Posted by: Greg | Dec 20, 2013 5:21:40 PM

  17. If it can happen in Utah, it can happen anywhere. Duck Dynasty news will come and go in a few days, this won't. (Well, they'll try but ... ) Amazing.

    Posted by: Ernie | Dec 20, 2013 5:24:24 PM

  18. I wish I could be there when Justice Scalia reads the judgement.

    The last paragraph of page 13 is hilarious.

    Posted by: Dan | Dec 20, 2013 5:26:20 PM

  19. This happened in Utah. Utah. The state of Utah.

    Yes, there will be an appeal and we'll see what happens from there, likely the state will file for an emergency injunction. But yeah...we've won. It's over.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 20, 2013 5:39:05 PM

  20. Can't believe this is happening. I thought I would never live to see this day. My husband (who works at America First Federal Credit Union) was told I could not be added to his health insurance because Utah law did not recognize same sex marriage. They will not be able to discriminate much longer!! It's incredible!

    Hatred and bigotry will be defeated, even when it's written into law. I knew this day would come, I just thought it would be much longer before it happened.

    Posted by: louis | Dec 20, 2013 5:46:38 PM

  21. If the state appeals, the case will go to the 10th circuit court in Denver. That court has five judges appointed by the bushes and five judges appointed by either obama or clinton. Even split. There are two vacancies, which I guess president obama can fill now that the republicans in the senate can't filibuster judicial appointees below the supreme court level.

    Posted by: woody | Dec 20, 2013 5:49:11 PM

  22. 10th Circuit isn't the most liberal court, wish it were the 9th Circuit. In any case, if the 10th Circuit does reverse this ruling, the fact of the matter is---the question of marriage equality is headed to SCOTUS. Soon.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 20, 2013 6:01:33 PM

  23. Just "punishment" for Utah's meddling in Prop 8. Suck on it, haters.

    Posted by: graphicjack | Dec 20, 2013 6:05:04 PM

  24. Agree with comment by DAN (above)

    The fact that the judge cited Scalia's tantrum in the Windsor dissent as part of this justification for overturning the Utah ban is just delicious, delicious, delicious...

    "The Constitution’s protection of the individual rights of gay and lesbian citizens is equally dispositive whether this protection requires a court to respect a state law, as in
    Windsor, or strike down a state law, as the Plaintiffs ask the court to do here. In his dissenting opinion, the Honorable Antonin Scalia recognized that this result was the logical outcome of the Court’s ruling in Windsor

    SCALIA 'In my opinion, however, the view that this
    Court will take of state prohibition of same-sex marriage is indicated beyond mistaking by today’s opinion. As I havesaid, the real rationale of today’s opinion . . . is that DOMA is motivated by “bare. . . desire to harm” couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.133 S. Ct. at 2709 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted)'

    THE COURT AGREES WITH JUSTICE SCALIA'S INTERPRETATION OF WINDSOR and finds that the important federalism concerns at issue hereare nevertheless insufficient to save a state-law prohibition that denies the Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection under the law"

    Posted by: Troubletown | Dec 20, 2013 6:15:31 PM

  25. The Associated Press reports they're already *issuing* licenses in Salt Lake City.

    Posted by: Hansel Currywurst | Dec 20, 2013 6:20:03 PM

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