SALT LAKE CITY – Responses have come from many entities in response to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirming a lower court’s ruling Wednesday morning that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. Marriage equality supporters praise the court’s ruling, while some detractors see it as an example of the federal government stepping over a state’s right to define what it chooses to recognize as marriage.
The appeals court’s ruling upholds District Judge Robert Shelby’s original Dec. 20, 2013, ruling that outlaws Amendment 3, Utah’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban. As the case is likely to go to the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal, the court issued a stay on its ruling pending the higher court’s ultimate decision.
Same-sex marriage was legal in Utah for 17 days, during which time more than 1,200 same-sex couples were wed. Issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples was halted when the Supreme Court issued a stay on the Shelby’s ruling on Jan. 6, 2014, pending the outcome of Utah’s appeal to the Tenth District Court of Appeals.
What follows are responses to the appeals court’s ruling from government leaders, advocacy groups and others.
Utah Gov. Gary Hebert
I am disappointed with the decision from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in regards to same-sex marriage. I believe states have the right to determine their laws regarding marriage. I am grateful the Court issued a stay to allow time to analyze the decision and our options. But as I have always said, all Utahns deserve clarity and finality regarding same-sex marriage and that will only come from the Supreme Court.
Sen. Orrin Hatch
Although I oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation, I have always believed that marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman. In my view, the U.S. Constitution does not dictate a particular definition of marriage, so I believe such judgments are properly left to the citizens of each State. Although I am not surprised by today’s decision, I disagree with the court’s reasoning and hope the Supreme Court ultimately adheres to the original understanding of the Constitution and allows each State to define marriage for itself.
Utah Attorney General’s Office
The decision released this morning by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Kitchen v. Herbert is currently being reviewed by the Utah Attorney General’s Office. Although the Court’s 2-1 split decision does not favor the State, we are pleased that the ruling has been issued and takes us one step closer to reaching certainty and finality for all Utahns on such an important issue with a decision from the highest court. For that to happen, the Utah Attorney General’s Office intends to file a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The Tenth Circuit Court’s issuance of a stay will avoid further uncertainty until the case is finally resolved. Whether the Utah Attorney General’s Office seeks en banc review of the Tenth Circuit’s ruling has yet to be determined.
American Civil Liberties Union
“This is a proud day for everybody in the state of Utah, and everybody across the country, who supports marriage equality. Though there is still much to do, the journey to ensuring the freedom to marry for all just got a huge boost with today’s decision,” said John Mejia, ACLU of Utah.
From Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project:“This is a significant step in the astounding progress that has been made in just a few years toward achieving dignity for all families. Today’s decision will hopefully be the first of several around the country that will eventually lead to all loving couples being able to commit to each other and take care of each other with the protections that only come with marriage.”
Utah Pride Center
For a decade and a half, Utah lawmakers have enacted legislation that obstructs the rights and protections of LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families. The Tenth Circuit’s opinion today affirms Judge Shelby’s decision, and joins the unanimous chorus of federal judges who recognize that the United States Constitution requires that the fundamental right to marry be extended to gay and lesbian couples. We encourage Governor Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes to stop spending tax dollars to defend Utah’s unconstitutional ban on marriage equality and accept the lawful decisions of our federal courts. Even our Senior United States Senator, Orrin Hatch, accepts the rulings of the federal judiciary recognizing marriage equality. Utah’s gay and lesbian couples are ready to move forward with their lives and continue to help make Utah the best place to raise a family.
The Sutherland Institute
It’s disappointing to have a few federal judges decide that they can unilaterally override the decision of Utah voters to preserve marriage as society’s way of preserving children’s opportunity to be reared by a mother and father.
We’ve long known that this issue will have to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court. We’re grateful that Utah will have the opportunity to make its case to the top court that Utah voters deserve self-determination to decide a matter crucial to the state and its citizens.
Any appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court is the main event and may decide the future of marriage for decades. Defenders of marriage must be prepared and Sutherland Institute has laid the groundwork ensuring that top legal minds have compiled every constructive and effective argument to give our side the best chance of winning.
Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign
Today’s decision affirms what we all know to be true – the U.S. Constitution guarantees the basic civil rights of all Americans, not just some. Utah’s ban on marriage equality does nothing to strengthen or protect any marriage. Instead, it singles out thousands of loving Utah families for unfair treatment simply because of who they are. Our Constitution does not allow for such blatant discrimination. We are incredibly grateful to the plaintiffs, their attorneys with Magleby & Greenwood, P.C and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, as well as Utah Unites for Marriage, for their tireless work making today’s historic victory possible
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church has been consistent in its support of marriage between a man and a woman and teaches that all people should be treated with respect. In anticipation that the case will be brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, it is our hope that the nation’s highest court will uphold traditional marriage.
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- U.S. Supreme Court halts same-sex marriages in Utah
- Utah appeals to U.S. Supreme Court to halt same-sex marriages
- Tenth Circuit denies Utah’s appeal for stay on same-sex marriage ruling
- Marriage licenses issued, weddings had for same-sex couples in Washington County
- Judge denies Utah’s request for emergency stay, same-sex marriage decision
- Federal judge strikes down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban
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