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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in Utah:

Part 18: 2014-JUL: Supreme Court issues
stay on "marriage recognition" lawsuit.
2014-AUG: Utah appeals "same-sex marriage"
lawsuit ban directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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This topic is a continuation of 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-JUL-18: U.S. Supreme Court issues stay on "marriage recognition" lawsuit:


  • 2013-DEC-20 when a District Court in Utah declared that the state ban on marriage by same-sex couples was unconstitutional, and

  • 2014-JAN-08 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on that lawsuit, pending an appeal,

About 1,300 same-sex couples obtained marriage licenses and solemnized their marriages. Subsequently, the State of Utah decided to not recognize these marriages. However, the federal government did recognize them and extended access to 1,138 government programs to the married couples with benefits and protections for themselves and their children.

On MAY-19, District Court Judge Dale A. Kimball ruled that Utah must also recognize those marriages. He wrote:

"The state has placed plaintiffs and their families in a state of 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."

Judge Kimball stayed his ruling for 21 days. The 10th U.S. Court of Appeals extended the stay until 2014-JUL-21. On JUL-18, a few days before the stay was to expire, the U.S. Supreme Court extended the stay until the Court of Appeals issues their ruling in the case.

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Jack Healy of the New York Times wrote:

"Marina Gomberg, one of the plaintiffs in the Utah suit, said the Supreme Court’s action left her 'disappointed but still optimistic' as the larger legal fight over the constitutionality of Utah’s ban makes its way to the justices.

Ms. Gomberg said she and her partner, Elenor Heyborne, have long wanted to have a baby, but that they have delayed their plans because they worry about raising a child in a state where only one of them can be legally recognized as a parent."

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star image 2014-AUG-05: The State of Utah appeals the same-sex marriage ban directly to the U.S. Supreme Court!

The state followed through with its stated intent to appeal the "Kitchen et al v. Herbert et al" case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. In their 200 page petition, they said:

"This case presents an immensely important question: whether the United States Constitution compels states to adopt a single marriage policy that every individual is allowed ‘to marry the person of their choice.’ The 10th Circuit said yes and struck down Utah’s definition — statutorily enacted and adopted into the Utah Constitution by two-thirds of voters in a statewide referendum — that marriage is only between a man and a woman. That ruling deprives Utah citizens of the ‘fundamental right’ to ‘act through a lawful electoral process’ ... and ignores that the [federal] Constitution says nothing about how states must define marriage. ..."

"The harm in waiting is significant, regardless of which side prevails. Either thousands of couples are being denied their constitutional right to marry, or millions of voters are being disenfranchised of their fundamental right to retain the definition of marriage that has existed since before the People ratified the United States Constitution."

The state's petition seems to overstate the case. If the Supreme Court legalizes marriages of same-sex couples, then there would be no "... single marriage policy that every individual is allowed ‘to marry the person of their choice'." Couples in which one partner is too young would still be refused a marriage license. They still could not marry if the couple were too closely genetically linked.

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The State of Utah's argument is based on three points:

  • That state legislatures and voters can define marriage in any way that the majority wishes, even if their definition violates the due process and/or equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which requires Utah to treat people equally.

    Webmaster's note: This is a point of view negated by dozens of state and federal courts since mid-2013 which have ruled in marriage equality cases, and upheld by none.

  • That the purpose of marriage is to protect the welfare of children, and that common sense tells us that children thrive best when raised by a mother and father. The state argued that:

    "Utah’s laws do not classify based on [sexual] orientation; they classify based on sexual complementariness. It remains a biological fact that the creation of new life requires both a mother and a father. A state’s interest in marriage thus springs from a distinctive characteristic of opposite-sex relationships: the couple’s sexual union can create new life." 4

    Webmaster's note: This belief about children thriving is supported by the Regneurus study led by Mark Regneurus of the Sociology Department at the University of Texas. The study is basically without value because it was based on a sample size of only two families led by same-sex parents who raised their children from birth through their teen years. It was repudiated by the Regneurus' own Sociology Department. This belief is contradicted by a study at the University of Melbourne in Australia which was based on a sample size of 315 families led by same-sex parents. It found that children thrive slightly better in families led by two same-sex parents compared with two opposite-sex parents.

    The belief that procreation is only possible by an opposite-sex couple is just plain wrong. A same-sex couple composed of two women only need a supply of sperm to procreate via artificial insemination. All same-sex couples can build a family through adoption.

  • That if the state enlarged the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, this action could eventually lead to polygamous marriages. It could also result in state laws that define a minimum age for people to marry to be declared unconstitutional. That would allow young children to marry. Their appeal stated:

    "If the 10th Circuit really means that a person’s choice is the only marriage limit, then virtually every line historically drawn around marriage must fail. The right to marry whomever one chooses would thus override not only a limitation based on sexual complementariness, but also the usual blanket limitations based on age, consanguinity, consent, or number of participants." 4

    Webmaster's note: Same-sex marriages have been legalized in Holland, Belgium, and the state of Massachusetts for over a decade, and in Spain & Canada for almost that long. Yet polygamous marriage have not been legalized in any of these countries. States' restriction of marriage on the basis of age, consanguinity (genetic closeness), mutual consent, and number of spouses are secure from challenge because there are very definite justifications why each restriction should be retained.

Sean Reyes (R), the Attorney General of Utah issued a statement noting that the lawsuit has generated "uncertainty and disruption." He wrote:

"We ... have accordingly tried to expedite its resolution as quickly as possibly by filing our petition a full month-and-a-half before its September 23rd due date. Utah welcomes a speedy grant of the petition and a Supreme Court merits decision, as all Utah citizens will benefit when the Supreme Court provides clear finality on the important issue of state authority to define marriage." 4

Webmaster's note: In reality, essentially everyone agrees that each state has the authority and responsibility to define who is eligible to marry. The main point of disagreement is whether the United States is:

  • A pure democracy in which a majority of voters is free to amend their state constitution to include a discriminatory amendment. This is called the "tyranny of the majority" and was a major concern of the founders of the U.S., or

  • A constitutional democracy in which the federal constitution is the highest law of the land. More details.

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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. Michael Muskal, "Federal court rules against Utah ban on same-sex marriage," Los Angeles Times, 2014-JUN-25, at:
  2. Pete Williams & Tracy Connor, "Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Ban," NBC News, 2014-JUN-25, at:
  3. Adam Liptak, "Justices say Utah doesn't have to recognize gay marriages," New York Times, 2013-JUL-18 at:\
  4. Marissa Lang, "Utah files same-sex marriage appeal with U.S. Supreme Court," The Salt Lake Tribune, 2014-AUG-05, at:

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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-AUG-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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