The ban on same sex marriages in Utah has sparked major debate among the experts, political leaders and residents, with many making the last bid to overturn a federal judge’s historic gay marriage ruling.
Denver courtroom at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is all set to pronounce its verdict any time now and the Uthahns are waiting for its arrival with bated breath.
Last year, the US Supreme Court had stayed a federal district judge’s decision that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.
The apex court has pronounced the terse order without any dissent, suggesting that the judicial system of the state needs more time to deliver a landmark verdict of recognizing a right to gay marriage.
The 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah had tied the nuptial knot before the Supreme Court halted the federal judge’s verdict. Besides, more than 1,000 gay marriages were performed after the federal judge ruled Utah’s voter-approved ban was unconstitutional.
Same-sex marriage in Utah became legal on December 20 in 2013. The beehive state is the 18th one where same-sex marriage has been legalized.
What’s the lawsuit?
A lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Utah was filed by three same-sex couples, including one already married in Iowa, on March 25 last year.
The lawsuit sought to declare Utah’s prohibition on the recognition of same-sex marriages unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution.
The court heard the arguments on December 4. On December 20, 2013, District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down the gay marriage ban as unconstitutional.
He wrote: Amendment 3 perpetuates inequality by holding that the families and relationships of same-sex couples are not now, nor ever will be, worthy of recognition. Amendment 3 does not thereby elevate the status of opposite-sex marriage; it merely demeans the dignity of same-sex couples. And while the State cites an interest in protecting traditional marriage, it protects that interest by denying one of the most traditional aspects of marriage to thousands of its citizens: the right to form a family that is strengthened by a partnership based on love, intimacy, and shared responsibilities.
Gay and lesbian marriages are legal and recognized in 17 states.
Reactions To Gay-Marriage Ban
Amid the fierce debate over the issue, challenges to homosexual marriage bans across the nation continue to be filed, fought and won.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert: I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. I am working with my legal counsel and the acting Attorney General to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.
Bishop John Wester of the Roman Catholic diocese of Salt Lake City: The decision is an affront to an institution that is at once sacred and natural.
Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law: It’s hard to imagine that all those judges are wrong, but we’ll see. At some point if you have so many rulings pointing one direction, it becomes that much more difficult to rule the other way. It’s almost like a tidal wave of support for the plaintiffs in these cases.
Marc Solomon, the national campaign director of gay-rights organization Freedom To Marry: It’s an exciting, albeit hectic, time to be on the forefront of the same-sex marriage fight. The public support continues to grow and expand in our direction. Every day there are more cases being filed and decided, and since last year’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, we’re 11 for 11 in federal court. All that together makes me quite confident that marriage equality will ultimately prevail.