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Lawyers for gay couples ask Supreme Court to allow same-sex unions

Friday, January 3, 2014
Tom Smart, Deseret News (AP)Derek Kitchen, left, and Moudi Sbeity, one of the gay couples that challenged Utah's gay marriage ban, at a celebration rally in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013.

Tom Smart, Deseret News (AP)
Derek Kitchen (left) and Moudi Sbeity, one of three same-sex couples that challenged Utah’s gay marriage ban, at a celebration rally in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013.

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawyers for same-sex couples in Utah filed court papers Friday with the U.S. Supreme Court explaining why gay marriage should be allowed to continue in the state.

Attorney Peggy Tomsic said the state’s request for an emergency stay on same-sex unions should be denied because Utah has not demonstrated how the weddings are harming anyone else. The state has also failed to show it will likely win an appeal of the Dec. 20 ruling from a federal judge, she said.

Tomsic wrote that the state’s’ “hodgepodge of articles that purportedly show that same-sex parents are inferior to opposite-sex parents” is not only false, but fails to address the constitutional issues addressed in the ruling.

The 61-page filing came Friday ahead of a noon deadline set by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who can act by herself or get the rest of the court involved. Sotomayor handles emergency requests from Utah and other Rocky Mountain states.

State attorneys requested an immediate halt on the marriages earlier this week, with attorneys saying the more than 900 gay marriages that have occurred in Utah are an affront to the state’s interests.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby’s decision last month came as a shock to many in the state, which approved the ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.

This is the state’s third attempt to have a court bring the gay marriages to a halt. Shelby and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have already refused to halt weddings while the state appeals what it calls a “rush to marry.”

The heavily Mormon state wants the marriages to stop while it appeals a judge’s decision, which said banning gay couples from marrying violates their right to equal treatment under the law.

Utah state attorneys argue that children are best raised by a mother and father in a good relationship. Tomsic, who represents three gay and lesbian couples from Utah, countered that argument by saying gay and lesbian couples can also be good parents.

“Respondents agree with applicants that marriage provides enormous benefits for children,” Tomsic wrote, “But excluding the children of same-sex couples from those benefits causes severe harm to those children, without providing any benefit to the children of opposite-sex parents.”

Shelby’s decision came late on a Friday afternoon the week before Christmas and sent people rushing to a county clerk’s office in Salt Lake City – about 3 miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church – for marriage licenses.

Earlier this week, the Utah Attorney General’s Office advertised a formal bid request to outside law firms for help preparing the appeals. State officials have said it could cost $2 million, bringing criticism from a lawyer for couples who sued to overturn the ban and say Utah should give up the fight.

Utah insists that states have the authority to define marriage as between a man and woman. Tomsic argues that the state’s rationale for asking for a halt to the same-sex marriages doesn’t make sense.

“Applicants cannot simultaneously concede that being stripped of one’s marital status causes profound, irreparable harm and urge the Court to inflict that very injury on the married Respondents and other married same-sex couples,” Tomsic said.

Developing story, check back for updates.

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37 more reader comments:

  1. And here we go…… this is exciting and could have an incredible outcome for Utah and the rest of the country potentially!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:26pm
  2. You go, guys! :D

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:27pm
  3. And they will continue to find no harm caused by same sex marriages, not just in Utah, but the entire country!!! Why? Because it doesnt harm anyone!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:28pm
  4. YAYYYYYY

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:29pm
  5. How about lets get the Government out of the marriage equation altogether.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:31pm
  6. I have sorta lost track what states have gotten the go for same sex marriage

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:31pm
  7. 16 states plus DC, 17 if you include Utah.

    Replied on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:41pm
  8. I am all for marriage, but I don’t really think unions are necessary. Discrimination in the workplace, or anywhere for that matter, is already illegal

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:33pm
  9. Stay strong LGBT Utahns!!!!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:34pm
  10. Man the battle stations and good luck in the big court

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:34pm
  11. I’m really hoping this goes smoothly. My girl and I are supposed to get married in Utah in 46 days… fingers crossed

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:36pm
  12. 2014 the year of equality

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:36pm
  13. the SC will kick it back to Utah, as the SC already ruled on this via DOMA.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:40pm
  14. Should be interesting because marriage has always been a state level issue. Very curious to see what the pro and con opinions will be based on.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:44pm
  15. Equal Rights for ALL

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 5:52pm
  16. Let’s hope the Supreme Court supports the US Constitution and its guarantee of equality for all and the full faith and credit clause rather than supporting the hatred, discrimination, and bigotry of UT’s Republican governor, which by the way is costing the UT taxpayers 2 million of their hard earned dollars.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 6:00pm
  17. Equality for all under the law.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 6:21pm
  18. Miss Ross is an African-American transgender woman with vision. She self-identifies as a “Creative,” saying on her page. Don’t forget to like the page https://www.facebook.com/missrosslive

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 6:49pm
  19. In 2014 should we even have to ask? We are United States of American citizens.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 7:20pm
  20. Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 7:56pm
  21. Hope you get it

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 8:01pm
  22. Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 8:55pm
  23. And the truth about the history of same-sex unions is that not one, anywhere on Earth, has caused harm to anyone else. This should be such a no-brainer at this point.

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 8:59pm
  24. Ekle Son Durumlari Begen Hemen Duvarindayim B| <3 :) :D <3 B| Ekle <3 :) ? 12

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 9:20pm
  25. I’ve never understood the argument that gay marriage is detrimental to hetero marriage, it’s such a stupid argument

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 11:00pm
  26. 2 millions $ for stopping gay marriage, when African children are dying for food ….

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 11:36pm
  27. It makes me sick! Who are we hurting by getting married? NO ONE!!!!

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 11:39pm
  28. The marriage license filed by same sex couples in Utah have set record highs in the state. And this is a state where polygamy used to be legal. lol

    Posted on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 11:44pm
  29. If your marriage is going to be in danger with same-sex marriage legalized, your marriage was never safe in the first place.

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 12:41am
  30. Here’s a good question for you gay and abortion supporters:
    If homosexuality could be identified by in utero genetic testing, would you still support a woman’s right to abort her baby solely because it was gay?

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 1:18am
  31. Please support my dream for an lgbtq clothing line. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/asonepride/as-one-pride #asonepride

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 2:08am
  32. Wishing you the best of luck guys !!

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 5:30am
  33. Stupid mor(m)ons.

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 10:38am
  34. Yes victory is riding all the way to the Supreme Court…”Love is Louder”

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 2:09pm
  35. Here’s why:
    14th Amendment
    14th Amendment
    14th Amendment

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 4:07pm
  36. Here’s another reason why:
    1st Amendment
    1st Amendment
    1st Amendment

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 4:09pm
  37. How does gay marriage have an affect on anyone? There should be overturned laws in all states.

    Posted on Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 5:20pm