News (USA)

Utah same-sex marriage ruling prompts petitions for and against

SALT LAKE CITY — Opponents and supporters of a federal judge’s ruling overturning Utah’s same-sex marriage ban both have launched online petition drives seeking support for their positions.

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition urging Gov. Gary Herbert to let U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s ruling stand, according to organizer Tim Wagner.

Kim Raff, APJ. Seth Anderson, left, and Michael Ferguson were one of the first couples married after a Utah judge declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Dec. 20.
Kim Raff, AP
J. Seth Anderson, left, and Michael Ferguson were one of the first couples married after a Utah judge declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on Dec. 20.

“What I hope to get from this at least is to get the governor to recognize that there’s a substantial portion of the population of voters in Utah who don’t view this in the same way he does,” Wagner, who created the petition hours after Friday’s ruling, told KSL-TV.

Herbert has criticized the ruling, saying it attempts to “override the will of the people of Utah” and that the state will fight it to defend traditional marriage. He urged Shelby to grant a motion to stay the decision until the state’s appeal can be heard.

The Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank in Utah, created a petition to show support for traditional marriage. Without providing numbers, spokesman Bill Duncan would only say the number of signatures is beyond what was expected.

“We don’t hate anyone. We just understand marriage differently and we think that’s a valid viewpoint in the public square,” he said.

Both petitions aim to give people a voice. Wagner plans to present his to the governor, while the Sutherland Institute said its purpose is to galvanize public opinion against the ruling.

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Jessica Chavez said she’ll let her voice be heard, too. She and her partner of nine years plan to get a marriage license at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office on Monday morning.

“(I’m) … hopeful the people of our state will recognize the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and we deserve as much as anyone to be married,” she told KSL.

Acting Attorney General Brian Tarbet said his office would bring the stay motion to Shelby by 9 a.m. on Monday. If the judge doesn’t immediately rule, state officials would also ask the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to grant the stay.

Shelby said Utah’s ban violated the constitutional rights of gay couples and ruled that Utah failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect other marriages in any way.

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