Allies, opponents surge as Utah battles same-sex marriage

ST. GEORGE – In the wake of the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announcing Friday that the federal government would recognize same-sex marriages in Utah, advocacy groups have praised the action, while others, like the Family Research Council, have railed against it.

Family Research Council supports the state

Tony Perkins, FRC president, released a statement Friday following Holder’s announcement, calling the government’s decision “an effort to make law in the breach and shows contempt for the states, the federal courts, and Congress.”

Same-sex marriages in Utah were performed between Dec. 20 and Jan. 6 following Utah’s same-sex marriage ban being struck by by Federal District Court Judge Robert Shelby. Over 1,300 same-sex marriages were performed by Jan. 6, when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay on Shelby’s ruling pending Utah’s appeal. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert chose not to recognize the marriages, as state law concerning the matter, which has been re-established for now due to the stay, does not allow him to.

However, while Utah doesn’t recognize the same-sex marriage, the federal government will.

“It only adds to the administrative chaos by flouting Utah’s marriage law and is in contrast to the U.S. Supreme Court’s cautious approach in granting a stay in the case,” Perkins said. “The Department of Justice’s announcement is doing the very thing which the Supreme Court condemned in the U.S. vs. Windsor decision – ‘creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same state.’”

Perkins then announced FRC’s endorsement of the “State Marriage Defense Act,” which he said requires the federal government to leave the definition of marriage in the hands of the state in which a couple resides in.

Petition by same-sex marriage supporters opposes the state

Just as advocates of traditional marriage fight on, so are supporters of same-sex marriage. A number of petitions asking Gov. Gary Herbert not to oppose Shelby’s ruling and to let the state recognize the marriages performed since.

Another petition, one created by Salt Lake resident Sophia Hawes on Change.org, asks for Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes not to waste state money by pursuing the appeal in the court. Wording on the petition also claims it is not the will of the people in Utah.

“This decision does not represent me, one of his constituents,” Hawes said on the petition. “Also, it does not represent that of my wife. While we’re at it, There are close to 1000 couples, that’s 2000 people this misrepresents as well, in their decision to be lawfully wed.”

It is estimated that $2 million could be spent by the state while fighting to keep Amendment 3, the state law that defines marriage as only being between one man and one woman. Hawes’s petition claims a large part of Utah’s electorate does not want their tax dollars wasted in the endeavor, and that marriage equality is the will of the people.

“There are plenty better things to spend money on in Utah, like cleaning the air, providing funds to WIC, public transportation and education,” Hawes wrote.

According to Change.org, Hawes’s petition reached 30,000 signatures on Sunday. On Monday she plans to present the petition to the Utah Attorney General’s Office

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • lds jackmormon January 13, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    They need to just let the gays have their marriages so we can move on to more pressing matters. It’s gonna happen eventually regardless of “the bible says blah blah blah”. Get over it people and lets move on.

  • Dorothy Engelman January 13, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    I gladly signed the petition on Change.org. It is ludicrous for the state to spend money on this!

  • Craig January 14, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Gov. Herbie is probably afraid Speaker Becky will run against him and wants to do his p.r. and damage control early. Herbie reminds me of a dog chasing his own tail.

  • Bob January 14, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    I don’t understand why people are saying that this ruling interferes with states rights? The State of Utah has chosen not to recognize same sex marriages, So married gay couples cannot file for any state assistance or file State taxes as a married couple.. The federal government does however recognize it so they can file for federal benefits and federal taxes. It does not affect the State of Utah at all.

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