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Utah says its ban on same-sex marriage does not discriminate against gays

Utah says its ban on same-sex marriage does not discriminate against gays

SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah asserted this week that it has a “sovereign right” to define and regulate marriage, and defended a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, saying its ban does not discriminate against gays and lesbians.

In a 13-page filing in federal court Monday, state attorneys denied that Utah’s Amendment 3 was aimed at furthering privately-held views that same-sex couples are immoral and inferior to heterosexual couples.

“Utah law prevents neither homosexuals nor lesbians from marrying,” according to the filing. “Homosexuals and lesbians may marry in Utah, but they face the same restriction heterosexuals do – they may not marry a person of the same sex. This restriction is not gender based – it applies equally to both males and females.”

On March 25, three couples filed a lawsuit challenging Utah’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, approved in 2004 by by 66 percent of voters.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Utah, argues that the constitutional amendment denies gay and lesbian citizens the basic right to marriage as affirmed in the interracial marriage case Loving vs. Virginia.

Plaintiffs in the Utah case are two gay couples — Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbiety, and Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge — along with Karen Archer and Kate Call, who were legally married in Iowa and whose marriage isn’t recognized by Utah.

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The lawsuit names Utah Attorney General John Swallow, Gov. Gary Herbert and Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen as defendants.

The state said that, while it is true that “unmarried couples or groups of any kind — heterosexual, homosexual, polygamous, etc.” are denied certain rights available to married couples, their access to those rights is not protected under the U.S. Constitution.

The state has asked U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby to dismiss the complaint.

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