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Challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban back in court

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — A challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples is scheduled to be back in court Wednesday as a federal court judge hears arguments in a case being closely watched around the U.S.

UtahU.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby is expected to ask many questions during the hearing, but his ruling will likely come at a later date.

There are 46 similar court challenges to same-sex marriage bans in 22 states, but Utah’s case is among the ones being closely watched because of the state’s history of being staunchly against the notion of allowing gays and lesbians to wed, said Jon Davidson, director of Lambda Legal which pursues litigation on a wide range of LGBT issues across the country.

Utah is home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which believes homosexual activity is a sin and is known for its efforts in helping California pass its anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. And the state was amon g the first to pass a state amendment banning same-sex marriage, which it did in 2004, Davidson said.

“Utah has a particularly symbolic position in the history of the struggle of same sex couples to be able to marry,” Davidson said.

Utah state attorneys defend the state amendment by saying it promotes the state’s interest in “responsible procreation” and the “optimal mode of child-rearing.” Philip Lott of the Utah Attorney General’s Office said he expects emotional arguments during Wednesday’s hearing, which starts at 10 a.m. and is expected to last about two hours.

Lawyers for the same-sex couples argue the choice of a marriage partner is a “fundamental right and liberty interest” protected by the U.S. Constitution and that the state amendment approved in 2004 discriminates against same sex couples in committed relationships.

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Peggy Tomsic, the attorney who represents the three couples, said the state can’t justify treating same-sex couples differentl y than opposite-sex couples after last summer’s ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. In that decision, the country’s highest court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which stipulate that marriage was between a man and woman, was struck down earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Of the three couples who filed the lawsuit in March, two are lesbians and the other gay men. One of the lesbian couples was legally married in Iowa, Tomsic said. They say the state’s ban has caused them humiliation, emotional distress, pain, psychological harm and stigma.

Shelby has told attorneys that he hopes to make a ruling by early January.

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21 more reader comments:

  1. Yep, yep.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:25pm
  2. Equality for all.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:27pm
  3. More so than even Mississippi or Texas, Utah would be the ultimate symbolic win for the movement, given everything already started about their history on the subject. Onward and upward!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:31pm
  4. Fuckers

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:31pm
  5. Come Utah, you know you want to have marriage equality. You can do it.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:34pm
  6. Go EQUALITY FOR EVERYONE. :)

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:36pm
  7. Responsible procreation: allowing 14 year old kids to marry and encourages them to have at least three children before the age of 21.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:47pm
  8. We all are equal, I’m so sick of people getting biblical about out gay nation when over half of the world is in sin. LOVE is not a sin and we can’t help the way we’re born. Let God be our judge not man. God didn’t approve of the divorce law, but it’s going on everyday and I don’t see no one saying anything about that…why?

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:51pm
  9. Because they would be turning the mirror on themselves.

    Replied on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 3:41pm
  10. Thing is, Jesus stood up for women (& love), but the early church fathers and 2000 years of Christian tradition has deified and canonized men’s voices, while highlighting the Roman kingly virtures of strength, power, perfection, rule, victory and might.... because trying to be perfect and victorious is not good for me or my community or the planet. That's what's wrong with the Bible. Everyone listens to everything except Christ.

    Replied on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 9:15pm
  11. YOU GO GLEN-COCO!YOU CAN DO IT!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:59pm
  12. With separation of church and state, all the arguments are void and all bans are unconstitutional anyway.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 2:59pm
  13. they'll simply argue it isn't for religious reasons and switch to some other invalid excuse (it isn't natural, it's harmful to children, etc.)

    Replied on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 3:25pm
  14. If Utah fell, the rest of the country would go. Here in Utah, we expect it to be the last place on earth to allow gay marriage. This is due to the LDS church, yet Utah is swarming with Gays.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 3:05pm
  15. what if the state’s same-sex marriage ban is written into its constitutional laws? i thought that protected the state from legal action. then again, i’m not familiar with law.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 3:24pm
  16. Go equality !!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 4:53pm
  17. As long as mormons have mouths gays will have a major battle to get equal rights

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 5:15pm
  18. utah is a messed up place. anti-gay big time. it’s a sad place to leave. and the people that are from there think it’s god’s country. lol

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 9:20pm
  19. You can’t even buy wine in the grocery stores there. We went last summer and its the prettiest place in our country. But also the most conservative.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 9:40pm
  20. I just got out of a cult where the preacher bashed gays openly in front on the congregation. it will be a long time before I set foot in another church.. if ever. such hate speech and being the only person to argue with him was lame. I don’t understand how people can say that everyone can be saved, and at the same time omit people based on their own comfort zones.

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 10:08pm
  21. Equality for all!

    Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 11:13pm