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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Utah:

Part 15: 2014-MAY:
District Court orders state to recognize
over 1,000 same-sex marriages (Cont'd).
Utah Governor criticizes other states.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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The acronym "SSM" refers to same-sex marriage;
"LGBT refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender community.

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LGBT symbol 2014-MAY-19: District Court rules that Utah must recognize legal same-sex marriages (Continued):

On MAY-19, Judge Kimball wrote:

"The state has placed [same-sex couples] and their families in a state of legal limbo with respect to adoptions, child care and custody, medical decisions, employment and health benefits, future tax implications, inheritance, and many other property and fundamental rights associated with marriage. These legal uncertainties and lost rights cause harm each day that the marriage is not recognized."... Although the state has a general interest in representing the wishes of its voters, that interest does not outweigh the harms [same-sex couples] face by having their constitutional rights violated. ..."

Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes shall immediately recognize the marriages by same-sex couples entered pursuant to Utah marriage licenses issued and solemnized between December 20, 2013, and January 6, 2014, and afford these same-sex marriages all the protections benefits and responsibilities given to all marriages under Utah law. ... " 1

This decision was stayed for 21 days, to allow state officials to appeal the District Court ruling if they wish.

Missy Larsen, spokesperson for the Attorney General, issued a statement, saying:

"The Attorney General’s Office has not made an immediate determination about whether it will appeal Judge Kimball’s ruling. We are currently assessing the legal impact of today’s decision and will respond within the 21-day allotted time period." 1

Marty Carpenter., spokesperson for Governor Herbert said:

"We are currently reviewing the decision issued today by U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball. We are evaluating the options and how this decision may relate to the status of other pending same-sex marriage cases." 1

John Mejía, legal director for the ACLU of Utah, said:

"We believe [that U.S. District Judge Robert] Shelby is right, that state bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. But what’s comforting about the ruling is no matter what happens with other cases, these marriages will be recognized."

He appears to be in error, because the ruling by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball may be overturned on appeal if the state does elect to appeal the case.

Judge Kimball's stay was later extended by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals until 2014-JUL-21. 7

On 2014-JUL-18, the U.S. Supreme Court extended the stay further, until the Court of Appeals issues it ruling on the case. 7

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2014-MAY-22: Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) complains about actions in other states concerning SSMs:

During his most recent monthly media interview on KUED, Channel 7 in Salt Lake City, Governor Herbert said that he was disappointed that some Governors and Attorneys General are refusing to defend their states' marriage bans against same-sex marriage, after the bans are declared unconstitutional by federal District Court judges in their state.

He referred to his functions as Governor of Utah:

"My job is to represent the people of Utah and follow the law [sic] on the books. ... It’s very clear to me. I’ve sworn allegiance to the Constitution of Utah and the Constitution of the United States. ... I find it very disappointing.

Voices here in our community, media and others, ought to, in fact, call them on the carpet and say, 'You have a responsibility to defend the law that’s been put on the books by the people.' For elected officials, governors and attorneys general, to say pick and choose which laws they will enforce, I think, is a tragedy and the next step toward anarchy." 2

Clifford Rosky, a law professor at the University of Utah and board member for Equality Utah -- a pro LGBT group -- noted that the Governor swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution during his oath of office. Rosky referred to the federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Referring to state same-sex marriage bans, he pointed out that:

"Every single judge in the country who has been asked the question in the past year has held that state laws against same-sex marriage are unconstitutional and that everyone has the right to marry in this country."

The core conflict appears to be a fundamental difference of opinion between many religious/social liberals and many religious/social conservatives in the United States:

  • Conservatives tend to believe that the United States is a pure democracy. Thus, the supreme law of the land is the opinion of the people. If they pass an amendment to their state constitution, or if their elected representatives acting on behalf of the people pass a law, then this represents the law of the land. It should be vigorously supported by the state Governor, Attorney General and other state officers. This appears to be the position of Governor Herbert.

  • Liberals tend to believe that the United States is a constitutional democracy. Thus, the supreme law of the land is the U.S. Constitution, followed by the State Constitutions, and finally by public opinion. The Due Process clause and the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that federal and governments must treat people equally. Thus, if a state law or state constitutional amendment violates the 14th Amendment, then the former is unconstitutional. Since, during their oath of office, state officers all commit themselves to supporting the U.S. Constitution as the ultimate authority in the land, they have a duty to oppose any state law or constitutional amendment that treats same-sex couples differently from opposite-sex couples. This appears to be the position of Prof. Clifford Rosky, and all of dozen or so the District Court judges who have ruled on same-sex marriage bans since mid-2013.

In several recent lawsuits regarding marriage equality, judges have drawn a comparison between:

The bans on interracial marriages prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Loving v. Virginia in 1967,


Bans on same-sex marriages today.

In fact, many District Court judges have noted that the 14th Amendment applies equally to both interracial marriages and same-sex marriages.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Marissa Lang, "Judge: Utah must honor same-sex marriages performed during 17-day window," The Salt Lake Tribune, 2014-MAY-19, at:
  2. Robert Gehrke, "Herbert says states have a duty to defend gay-marriage bans," Salt Lake Tribune, 2014-MAY-24, at:
  3. Lindsay Whitehurst and Marissa Lang. "LGBT leader calls for apology over Utah governor’s comments," The Salt Lake Tribune, 2014-MAY-23, at:
  4. Kim Trobee, "Utah Same-sex marriage on hold," Citizenlink, 2014-JAN-06, at:
  5. Michael Muskal, "Federal court rules against Utah ban on same-sex marriage," Los Angeles Times, 2014-JUN-25, at:
  6. Pete Williams & Tracy Connor, "Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban," NBC News, 2014-JUN-25, at:
  7. Jack Healy & Adam Kiptak, "Court Finds Oklahoma Cannot Ban Gay Nuptials," The New York Times, 2014-JUL-19, at:

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Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM > SSM sub menu > Utah > here

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2014-FEB
Latest update: 2014-AUG-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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