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Plaintiffs Challenging Utah's Gay Marriage Ban Ask Supreme Court to Weigh in on Fundamental Right to Marry

As expected, the plaintiffs in the case challenging Utah's ban on same-sex marriage have filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to finally weigh in on the question of whether all citizens have a fundamental right to marry. 

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Scotus"Today, our nation’s same-sex couples and their children live in a country where they may be denied legal recognition as a family or may find their marriages invalidated simply by virtue of crossing a state line," according to the brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Utah’s request that the court hear its case.

"This court should grant the petition and hold that denying same-sex couples the fundamental freedom to marry and to have their marriages recognized violates our nation’s cherished and essential constitutional guarantees."

Said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter:

“Same-sex couples experience real hardships as a result of being denied the freedom to marry and to have their marriages respected wherever they travel or live. In the past year, more than 30 state and federal courts have ruled that state laws barring same-sex couples from marriage are unconstitutional. We hope the Supreme Court will consider this issue in its next term and will concur that same-sex couples and their children are an integral part of our nation’s fabric and must be given the same protection and respect as other families.”    

Earlier this month, Utah became the first state to appeal a ruling striking down a state ban on gay marriage to the Supreme Court. The Utah government, led by Attorney General Sean Reyes, is arguing that states have a right to continue defining marriage as they see fit and has pledged to "spend whatever it takes" to keep the ban in place.  

This week, it was announced that head civil rights lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders Mary Bonauto would be joining the legal team challenging Utah's same-sex marriage ban. 

Read the brief below:

Plaintiffs' Response Brief via Equality Case Files


DOMA Lawyer Mary Bonauto Joins Fight Against Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Mary

Top civil rights lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders Mary Bonauto will be joining the legal team challenging Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, according to BuzzFeed.

Bonauto is perhaps the preeminent civil rights attorney in the United States where same-sex marriage is concerned. In a New York Times profile last year, Roberta Kaplan remarked, “No gay person in this country would be married without Mary Bonauto.” Bonauto argued against and defeated the state of Massachussetts’ ban on same-sex marriage in 2003--the first state in which such a ban was brought down--and also served on Edie Windsor's legal team in last year’s seminal Supreme Court decision that gutted section 3 of DOMA. Said Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson of Bonauto's contributions, 

“Not only did GLAD lead in teeing up the litigation strategy that brought down DOMA, but Mary was the unsung engine of the friend-of-the-court presentations made to the Supreme Court in both marriage cases last year."

Bonauto and GLAD's expertise will be of particular use in the Utah case:

“GLAD brings the perspective, insights, and distillation that come from long experience on marriage and the related issues, and the good sense to take nothing for granted,” Bonauto said. “We’ve also won this issue in courts, and worked with others to win in state legislatures and at the ballot box. That has given us a deep feel for the concerns and hesitations out there and insights about how to make our case and find shared values that move us forward.”

Specifically as to the DOMA litigation, she added, “We hope that the strategic thinking on DOMA — about how to get to a win on DOMA that would also position us to keep moving forward to marriage — will be useful here as well.”

The case against Utah is noteworthy, and likely drew Bonauto and GLAD's attention, because both the plaintiffs and the defendant (the state) have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and take up the matter. The result of which could be a far-reaching ruling that could make marriage equality the law of the land in all 50 states. 


10th Circuit Grants Utah Extension To File Appeal Of Gay Marriage Ruling: VIDEO

Utah

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a request by the state of Utah to extend its deadline for filing an appeal in a case challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban, according to KSL Utah. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes filed the request to extend the deadline to October 22, arguing the state needed the additional time because "the case is 'factually and legally complex' and that the attorneys on the case already have a busy workload." The ACLU, which represents the couples who sued the state for the right to marry, has said that the state had plenty of time to prepare its appeal, arguing further that delays "cause the plaintiffs financial and emotional stress." Meanwhile, the state claims "it has never disputed that the couples 'genuinely feel subjected to hardship' but that their attorneys haven't acknowledged the "equally true proposition" that Utah is harmed by not being able to enforce its laws."

Gay couples in Utah began to marry after Federal Judge Dale Kimball ruled in December of last year that Utah's gay marriage ban "[denied] its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean[ed] the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason." The 10th Circuit then upheld Kimball's ruling but the decision was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court until Utah could appeal the circuit court's ruling. 

Watch a news report on the 10th Circuit's latest decision, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "10th Circuit Grants Utah Extension To File Appeal Of Gay Marriage Ruling: VIDEO" »


Brigham Young University Pulls Hallmark Same-Sex Wedding Cards

CardSame-sex wedding greeting cards have been removed from the Brigham Young University (BYU) bookstore in Provo, Utah, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

BYU is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which believes that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

The Hallmark cards reading "Mr. and Mr." and "Mrs. and Mrs." were removed when bookstore staff discovered them after photos surfaced online. According to BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins, Hallmark stocked the shelves without realizing the school wouldn’t want to sell the cards celebrating same-sex marriages.

Explaining why the cards were removed, Jenkins cited BYU’s honor code which states "homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

Although the university does not intend to end its contract with Hallmark, staff have asked the company to not leave similar cards in the bookshop in the future.

Last month we reported that John Dehlin, a Mormon advocate of LGBT rights, was facing excommunication from the church.


Utah Attorney General Asks For Extension In Same-Sex Benefits Case

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511f6856b970c-200wiUtah Attorney General Sean Reyes has asked the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for an extension in filing his appeal of a federal judge’s decision that the state must grant spousal benefits to the nearly 1,200 same-sex couples that were married after the state’s ban on gay marriage was struck down. If granted the extension, Reyes and his office would have until October 22 (instead of September 22) to file. The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Attorney are asking for the extension due to the fact that the case is "factually and legally complex" and that the attorneys on the case already have a busy workload, according to the brief.

The state notes in its brief that he plaintiffs oppose their motion for an extension.

The suit was brought by four couples who were married in the immediate aftermath of the historic Dec. 20 decision by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby that overturned Utah’s voter-approved ban on same-sex unions.

After the U.S. Supreme court halted all same-sex weddings to allow Utah an opportunity to appeal the case, the state refused to extend spousal benefits to those gay and lesbian Utahns who had married, saying the stay ensured the state could continue to operate under its previously established "status quo."

Following SCOTUS' granting a stay, U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball ordered that same-sex couples that were wed in Utah must be granted the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. However, the U.S. Supreme Court again intervened, staying Kimball's ruling pending the state's appeal. 


Facebook Donates $10,000 to Utah's Anti-gay Attorney General Sean Reyes

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' re-election campaign got a healthy influx of cash from Facebook, Inc. back in May, according to disclosures filed with the Utah Lieutenant Governor's office.

ReyesThe company, which is usually a strong corporate backer of LGBT equality, donated $10,000 to the man who vowed late last year to 'spend whatever it takes' to prevent gay couples from obtaining marriage licenses in his state.

QSalt Lake reports:

When asked about the donation to the person who has arguably become the face of legal opposition to marriage equality in America, a Facebook spokesperson responded with:

“Facebook has a strong record on LGBT issues and that will not change, but we make decisions about which candidates to support based on the entire portfolio of issues important to our business, not just one. A contribution to a candidate does not mean that we agree with every policy or position that candidate takes. We made this donation for the same reason we’ve donated to Attorneys General on the opposite side of this issue – because they are committed to fostering innovation and an open Internet.”

LGBT supporters unsatisfied with Facebook's response have launched an online petition calling for the company to "publicly decry this bigotry and make an equal or greater contribution to the campaign of Charles Stormont who is also seeking the office of Utah Attorney General."

Earlier this month, we reported that Reyes had appealed a Tenth Circuit's decision striking down the state's gay marriage ban directly to the U.S. Supreme court 


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