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. Mary isn't totally wrong. It's always better to have an opposition that is depressed rather than angry. It's almost certain that change will come to Utah only through the courts, but timing-wise it might have been better if it were preceded by victories in states such as Oregon, Nevada, and Colorado -- all Western and all with significant Mormon populations, but less likely to freak out. That said, the decision was the correct one.

    Regarding Johnny's post about Judge Shelby being appointed by Obama... That's true, but he was appointed on recommendation of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch.

    Posted by: Merv | Dec 21, 2013 8:31:06 AM

  2. @Johnny: You say, "I am a religious conservative and yes I hope the people of Utah rise up against this blatant attack on our values." Ok, I was raised as a catholic, and I have a reasonable understanding of that religion.

    It is a mortal sin to not go to confession at least once a year. So how long does anyone that does not go to confession have to spend in jail? It doesn't matter what religion you believe in, if you do not go to confession within the year, obviously you must be punished. If you say that you do not believe in confessing to a priest, tuff luck! The church says you must do it! Or do you pick and choose which rules to follow!

    There is a separation of church and state in this country, so as soon as you say "The Bible says ......." Your argument goes out the window. The Federal Government has ruled that marriage is an inalienable right. That goes for everyone in the USA, and it must be applied without any invocation of the bible! After all, where does the bible come from? Please do not say God, a simple question in Google, and the responses can not even confirm the source, but certainly can confirm that some sources are not as described!

    So, we have to look at the secular establishment of marriage, which has been in existence for many years. As the judge said, the states establish the rules of marriage, BUT that MUST be done within the requirements of the US Constitution!

    Also if you feel that you have the right to vote on my ability to marry, then obviously, I certainly have the right to vote on woman's right to vote, of on any right that you feel you have the right to!

    Posted by: John | Dec 21, 2013 9:08:00 AM

  3. @John: Your response was not fair to Johnny in one respect. Johnny claimed he was a religious conservative, not a Catholic religious conservative. So, the Catholic church's rules about "confession" may not apply to Johnny as Johnny may not be Catholic. Maybe he's a snake-handler type of religious conservative. Who knows?

    The one thing that Johnny seems to share with every type of religious conservative is the belief that if you deviate from his particular beliefs in the slightest, you spend eternity in the boiler room, or rather inside the boiler itself. But look at the bright side of things. At least Hell is cooler than the surface of Venus (if you take the Biblical stuff literally). It seems that Revelations 21:8 goes on about a lake that "burneth with fire and brimstone," but brimstone is sulfur and its boiling point is 444.6 C, compared to the average surface temperature on Venus of 460 C.

    Posted by: Bill | Dec 22, 2013 7:33:21 PM

  4. I've read the decision and am 1/2 way through the NM Supreme's decision. They are singing harmony. It is the same arguments, but only referencing the NM Constitution [which also includes sexual orientation protection].

    I'm amazed at the flat-footed response of the UT management. Today, Judge Shelby explained that if they'd wanted him to grant a stay, as was done in Judge Walker's court on Prop 8, they'd have needed to ask for it before he ruled. Now, maybe the resignation of the UT AG [on bribery/ influence peddling charges]left the 2nd string in command. Maybe the Right Honorable Judge Shelby threw off their timing by saying he'd rule by 1/9/14 and showed what an overachiever he can be. And maybe they thought, "Well, what are the chances he's actually going to find for THEM anyway?" But to not know how to file for a stay with your own Circuit Court of Appeals? I think it is the last. And they're gobsmacked.

    And Mary, sorry, but there isn't A Gay Agenda. The 3 sets of couples in this lawsuit all had powerful reasons to file it. I guess they didn't get the memo that said, "We're going to leave Utah for last because the Mormon Church is our biggest foe, now that Benedict has stepped down and Francis is saying hopeful things." I live in CA and they came after us. I have simply never been happier and I got married on 7/1/13, the first day I could w/o going to SF the weekend before. I wore crocs and carried a can of paint. I was buying the $99 Federal Rights Upgrade from my previous status of Domestically Partnered w/ only some state and employer rights from my [now] husband's employer [the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, btw].

    Oh, and fyi, while NM and UT were decided by Courts, only 1/3 of the NINE that have happened in 2013 are court-centric. The other 6 were popular vote or legislature. We're winning because we're pursuing all strategies. We're not taking no for an answer and we're not waiting for anyone to give it to us w/o asking. Backlash? Bring it. I'd even be bashed to get hate crimes legislation on the books. The same argument, to go slow, was put forward on the Prop 8 case. This was FAST only in the fact that two of the couples were denied marriage licenses in MARCH of 2013! That is lightening speed in the court system. And it only took a 4 hour hearing. Judge Walker took DAYS of testimony.

    And finally, the most cogent thing said today was by Peggy Tomsic, plaintiff's attorney: “The ‘cloud of confusion’ the defendants talk about occurs only in their own minds, not anyone else’s.” Yes, they're reeling. Their world is gone with the wind. Kinda feels like it does when you suddenly realize you're gay and that's not ok with everyone. Ya gotta deal with that. Ya gotta think about that one. And it makes you stronger and you adapt. Yes, they will but they're running out of corners. If the Supremes knock out the other part of DOMA, on the Full Faith and Credit Clause, it will be done. Then, we'll be able to get married anyplace [Hawaii, CA, WA, DC] and go home and BE married, just like straight people going to Vegas. And yet it doesn't stay in Vegas. That is the most blatantly unconstitutional part of DOMA because CONGRESS cannot override the Constitution either and the Full Faith and Credit Clause was put in for this exact reason: to allow the citizens of these United States to be able to follow the law in one jurisdiction and not me penalized or have their status change in a different jurisdiction.

    And I'm just gonna say it: Robert Shelby is my new "pinup boy" and if he's straight, I want the pick of the litter.

    Posted by: ben~andy | Dec 23, 2013 8:22:46 PM

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