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Utah Appeals Gay Marriage Ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court

Utah has become the first state to appeal a ruling striking down a state ban on gay marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Salt Lake Tribune reports:

SupremesUtah announced last month its intent to appeal the 10th Circuit’s decision to the nation’s high court. The Supreme Court is on break until the fall, at which point the justices will review Utah’s petition and decide whether to hear the case — known as granting certiorari.

Should the court decline to hear the case and deny Utah’s request, the 10th Circuit’s decision would stand — effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in all of the states in that circuit: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

The question presented to the court, according to the state’s petition, is "whether the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a state from defining or recognizing marriage only as the legal union between a man and a woman."

The plaintiffs in Kitchen v. Herbert are represented by Peggy Tomsic of the Salt Lake City law firm of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C., and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Said Tomsic in a press release:

"We respect the State’s right to seek review of its own law in the highest Court in the land, but we also respectfully, and vehemently, disagree with the notion that States can deny one of the most foundational rights to the millions of same-sex couples living across this great land. We look forward to reviewing the Petition filed by Utah’s excellent lawyers, and to responding to it in due course."

Added NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter:

“We respectfully disagree with the State of Utah’s lawyers. Utah’s same-sex couples and their children are continually harmed by the enforcement of measures that deny them equal dignity, security and protection. We will carefully review the State’s petition to determine the response that will best advance our goal of winning for all Utahns the freedom to marry the person they love, and to have their marriages treated the same as other couples’ marriages.”

The Utah petition below:

Herbert v Kitchen Petition and Appendix by Equality Case Files

Wednesday will be another big day for legal marriage challenges in the U.S. as the Sixth Circuit hears six separate marriage equality cases from Kentucky (two cases), Michigan, Ohio (two cases), and Tennessee.

NCLR is involved tomorrow as well. Al Jazeera reports:

“This is the most marriage equality cases ever heard in one court at one time, but the underlying situation is kind of incredible as well,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is a plaintiff in the case challenging Tennessee’s same-sex-marriage ban. “It just so happened they had six cases that affected every state in the circuit in the same time frame. It does make sense to assign them to the same judging panel, since they all present either identical or closely related issues.”


Utah ESL Blogger Fired for 'Promoting a Gay Agenda' With Post About Homophones

TorkildsonTim Torkildson, a social media manager for a Utah English school for ESL students, has been fired for blogging like homophones after his employer Clarke Woodger expressed concern that students might misinterpret the word as a reference to gay sex. Homophones, words that sound the same but mean different things.

“I didn't know what the hell you were talking about.” Torkildson recounted Woodger telling him. “We don't teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it's extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I'll have your check ready."

Woodger corroborated Torkildson’s account of the conversation to the Salt Lake Tribune, insisting that "People at this level of English may see the 'homo' side and think it has something to do with gay sex."

Homophones are often thought to be one of the more challenging aspects of the English language for those new to it. Torkildson is of the school of thought that the class of words are  crucial and “one of the first subjects tackled when teaching ESL” because the language is rife with them.

London-based filmmaking duo Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston’s short film Skwerl about what English sounds like to non-English speakers highlights Torkildson’s point perfectly. Check it out AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Utah ESL Blogger Fired for 'Promoting a Gay Agenda' With Post About Homophones" »


Supreme Court Grants Utah Request for Stay of Gay Marriage Recognition

Utah will not have to recognize the marriages of approximately 1,000 gay couples who married after a federal judge struck down the state's ban on gay marriage while the case is appealed, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday.

SupremesThe NYT reports:

The court’s order was two sentences long and said only that a lower court’s ruling “is stayed pending the final disposition of the appeal” by the federal appeals court in Denver.

The marriages took place between Dec. 20, when Judge Robert J. Shelby of Federal District Court in Salt Lake City struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, and Jan. 6, when the Supreme Court issued a stay blocking that ruling while the decision was appealed.

Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, released a statement:

"We are deeply disappointed by the decision to grant a stay pending appeal, but despite this setback, we are confident that when the appellate process is completed we will prevail and these lawfully married same-sex couples will once again be given the same legal protections as ever other legally married Utah couple."


Connecticut Ruling Could Lead To Retroactive Marriage Rights For Same-Sex Couples

A July 16th Connecticut Supreme Court ruling is adding to the debate on whether same-sex marriage rights should be applied retroactively, reports ABC News.

Charlotte Stacey and Margaret MullerThe case involved Margaret Mueller and Charlotte Stacey, who had a civil union in Connecticut in 2005 and got married in Massachusetts in 2008 after 23 years together, shortly before Connecticut approved gay marriage.

Mueller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001 but the couple learned in 2005 that the diagnosis was wrong and Mueller actually had appendix cancer. Stacey said her wife’s death could have been prevented if the original diagnosis had been correct.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Stacey may sue for medical malpractice over the loss of her wife's companionship and income, even though that right was limited to heterosexual married couples at the time of their marriage.

Lower courts had ruled that Stacey could not sue because only married couples had that right and Stacey and Mueller did not marry until 2008.

Although no states that allow same-sex marriage have made their laws retroactive, many believe that inheritance laws and other benefits that had been available only to heterosexual married couples should be extended to same-sex partners.

While the Connecticut court did not make its 2008 same-sex marriage ruling retroactive, it expanded common law to give gay people the right to sue over the death of a partner.

Speaking to Associated Press, Ben Klein, a lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston, said:

"Because there was a time when many same-sex couples couldn't marry, they were subjected to a whole range of unfair treatment under the law and this decision is really a great step forward. We have these remnants from the past that the court, at least in this one instance, has rectified."

However, some groups that oppose same-sex marriage are also against making marriage rights retroactive.  Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, said "Connecticut has no obligation to pay reparations to homosexuals for having maintained the natural definition of marriage until 2008."

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Gay marriage bans that have been overturned in states including Utah continue to make their way through the courts.


Utah Files Emergency SCOTUS Request Over Gay Marriage Recognition

Utah has filed an emergency request with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor asking her for a stay of the order forcing Utah to recognize nearly 1200 gay marriages performed there, FOX13Now's Ben Winslow reports:

SotomayorIn the filing, special assistant attorney general Gene Schaerr refers to the marriages as “interim marriages” and writes that the nation’s top court is likely to take the Amendment 3 case and rule in Utah’s favor.

“Utah believes it is highly likely — and certainly likely enough to warrant a stay — that at least four Justices will vote to grant certiorari if the district court’s decision is affirmed, and that at least five Justices will agree with Judge Kelly that the district court’s sweeping legal conclusions ‘simply cannot be’ — and emphatically are not — ‘the law.’ Indeed, the district court’s misunderstanding of the legal status of a law subject to a non-final decision of unconstitutionality is so fundamentally erroneous, and arises in a context of such importance to all of the states and to this Court, that a summary reversal could well be in order,” he wrote.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Urah to recognize the marriages last Friday, and the state said it planned to appeal to Sotomayor.

Read the brief below:

Application for SCOTUS Stay Final (w Addenda) (1) by Ben Winslow


Federal Appeals Court Orders Utah to Recognize Gay Marriages; State to Appeal to SCOTUS

Gay couples married in Utah may soon have their marriages recognized by the state.

State_utahThe ACLU reports:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit denied Utah's request to suspend a lower court's ruling ordering the state to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally married after a federal court struck down a state ban, but before the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted additional marriages from taking place. Over 1,000 same-sex couples married in Utah during that time period. In May, a federal court ordered the state to recognize those marriages as legally valid, but Utah had asked that the lower court's order be suspended as the appeals process continued. Today's ruling denies that request, but does give the state 10 days to decide to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The couples are represented by American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Utah, and Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC, who sought the preliminary injunction for the marriages to be recognized while their lawsuit continues. 

"It's a relief to our clients and the 1,000 other lawfully wedded same-sex couples in our state that their marriages will be recognized throughout this process," said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. "We continue to fight to ensure that these loving and committed couples get the permanent recognition they deserve."

SupremesThe Salt Lake Tribune adds that the state will appeal to Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

In a statement released by the attorney general’s office, Utah announced its intention to promptly file an application for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court "to avoid uncertainty."

"The State recognizes that pending cases regarding same-sex marriage in Utah impact the lives of many individuals and families and is diligently seeking uniform certainty through proper and orderly legal processes until Kitchen v. Herbert is resolved," the statement said, referencing Utah’s other pending same-sex marriage appeal aimed at reviving a voter-approved ban on gay and lesbian unions.


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