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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Utah:

Part 20: 2014-AUG to OCT:
Unusual appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court by
"Kitchen v. Herbert" plaintiffs (Cont'd).

Surprise development:
Supreme Court decision legalizes SSM in Utah.

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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-AUG-28: "Kitchen v. Herbert" plaintiffs file an unusual request with the U.S. Supreme Court (Cont'd):

The couples' brief states, in part:

"This case raises the constitutional question whether a state may deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry that is of 'fundamental importance for all individuals.' ... The Tenth Circuit held that Utah’s decision to prohibit same-sex couples from exercising this right violates '[o]ur commitment as Americans to the principles of liberty, due process of law, and equal protection.' ... Even with this ruling, same-sex couples still cannot claim the full citizenship that comes from having their duly celebrated marriages given equal recognition and treatment under the law.

Respondents are three same-sex couples in Utah who cannot fully benefit from the freedoms the Tenth Circuit’s opinion affirms until their 'right to marry and so live with pride in themselves and in their union, and in a status of equality with all other married persons' is recognized throughout the country. ... Until that time, Respondents and other same-sex couples face grave uncertainty about their ability to protect their relationships no matter where they live or travel. Like other Americans, individuals in same-sex relationships must care for their spouses and their children, manage their finances, navigate the healthcare system, travel or move from one state to another, and even face the loss of their spouses. But unlike other Americans, same-sex couples must do all of this without security in the legal status of their relationships. This inequality is constitutionally intolerable. Respondents therefore agree that the Court should grant Utah’s petition [for certiorari] and settle this important question.

This case presents an appropriate vehicle for the Court’s review. The Tenth Circuit carefully surveyed Utah law and concluded that there is no question of standing that could impede consideration of the merits. Petitioners—Utah’s Governor and Attorney General—are proper parties to speak on the state’s behalf and to assert Utah’s interests. They have forcefully defended Utah’s marriage prohibitions and bring concrete adverseness to this suit. And Utah’s law is similar to other state laws excluding same-sex
couples from marriage, offering the Court an opportunity to settle the critical constitutional question presented.

Today, our nation’s same-sex couples and their children live in a country where they may be denied legal recognition as a family or may find their marriages invalidated simply by virtue of crossing a state line. This Court should grant the petition and hold that denying same-sex couples the fundamental freedom to marry and to have their marriages recognized violates our nation’s cherished and essential constitutional guarantees. ..." 1

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The brief discusses hardships faced by loving, committed same-sex couples in Utah because of Amendment 3 to the Utah Constitution. It was passed by about 66% of the voters in 2004. They are still exposed to these hardships because of the Supreme Court's stay:

"Amendment 3 not only denies same-sex couples the freedom to marry but also deprives them of countless rights, protections, and duties reserved for married spouses under the Utah Code. For example, same-sex couples may not make medical decisions for
an incapacitated partner, ... file joint tax returns, ... adopt a child, ... serve as foster parents, ... claim certain pension benefits on behalf of a public employee spouse, ... enjoy certain protections in probate proceedings, ... or maintain a statutory cause of action for wrongful death. ..."

"Utah also excludes same-sex couples from the duties of marriage. For example, there are no legal mechanisms for same-sex partners who have built a life and family together to pay—or be required to pay—alimony or child support if they separate. ... Gay and lesbian state employees also need not disclose information about their life partners for conflict-of-interest purposes. In short, Amendment 3 creates a wholesale exclusion of same-sex couples from the protections and responsibilities of marriage, preventing access to scores of benefits and duties, 'from the mundane to the profound'. ..."

"At stake in this case is the liberty of an entire class of Americans, who urgently need a ruling from this Court that they are able to marry and to have their marriages recognized on an equal basis with other citizens.  In the past year, lower courts around the country have correctly recognized that state laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violate the Constitution. Yet because these rulings do not apply nationwide, same-sex couples continue to experience great uncertainty and serious harm. They cannot plan for their own and their children’s futures secure in the knowledge that states may not strip them of legal recognition of their familial relationships when they move or travel. ..." 1 

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Reactions to the Plaintiff's brief:

  • Plaintiff Kody Partridge said.

    "Laurie and I have been together for many years and we want to be treated as equal citizens, with our relationship honored the same way that the marriages of our parents, family members, and friends have been respected. We hope the Supreme Court will recognize that our long-standing relationship deserves the same respect that other couples receive through marriage."

  • Lead counsel  Peggy Tomsic of the Salt Lake City law firm of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C. said:

    "These couples and many others like them in Utah want nothing more, and nothing less, than to be able to marry the person they love and to have their marriages respected on an equal basis with other married couples in this country. This is one country, and we have only one Constitution.  We hope the Supreme Court will review this case and affirm the Tenth Circuit’s ruling that same-sex couples have the same fundamental freedom to marry as others and that the law must treat their families equally."

  • Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is another member of the team of lawyers representing the plaintiffs. She said:

    "In the 10 years since same-sex couples started marrying in Massachusetts, thousands more have been able to marry across the United States, bringing them happiness and security, and harming no one. It is time to end the legal bans that keep committed couples from standing up and making this unique promise to one another and which would allow their families protection and security everywhere in this country."

  • Shannon Minter, the Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) said:

    "Same-sex couples experience real hardships as a result of being denied the freedom to marry and to have their marriages respected wherever they travel or live. In the past year, more than 30 state and federal courts have ruled that state laws barring same-sex couples from marriage are unconstitutional. We hope the Supreme Court will consider this issue in its next term and will concur that same-sex couples and their children are an integral part of our nation’s fabric and must be given the same protection and respect as other families." 2 

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2014-OCT-06: Surprise development: Marriage equality comes to Utah with the stroke of a pen:

Utah's appeal of the ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, along with similar appeals from four other states (IN, OK, VA, WI).

Governor Gary Herbert (R) immediately threw in the towel. He ordered applicable state agencies to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to start recording their marriages. 3

The state also began to recognize the approximately 1,300 same-sex couples who married in Utah during late 2013-DEC and early 2014-JAN whose marriage had been in a state of legal uncertainty. They had run the risk of being forcibly divorced against their will at any time. The federal government had recognized their marriages but the state of Utah did not. Finally, the marriages of an unknown number of same-sex couples who had previously been married in other states now have their marriages recognized by Utah.

Same-sex couples began obtaining marriage licenses in Utah starting later on OCT-06, and couples began to marry. This was a painful defeat for most of the religious conservatives who form the majority in Utah. It brought much joy to the entire Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in the state and elsewhere in the U.S.

This decision by the Supreme Court will shortly bring same-sex marriage to six additional states: (CO, KS, NC, SC,WV,WY) who are under the jurisdiction of a Circuit Court of Appeal affected by the Court's decision.

When all the changes are made, same-sex marriage will become available in 11 more states. This will make a total of 30 states and the District of Columbia with marriage equality. 60% of Americans will live in locations where same-sex couples can marry. More details.

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This appears to conclude the topic of same-sex marriage in Utah

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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. "Case summary & history: Kitchen v. Herbert, "National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2014-AUG. Downloadable from http://www.nclrights.org/
  2. TRT Editor, "Utah Marriage Equality Plaintiffs Ask U.S. Supreme Court to Review Case," The Rainbow Times, 2014-AUG-28, at: http://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/
  3. "How same-sex marriage is unfolding in Utah, other states," The Salt Lake Tribune, 2014-OCT-07, at: http://www.sltrib.com/

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

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > SSM > SSM sub menu > Utah > here

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2014-JUN
Latest update: 2014-OCT-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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