ST. GEORGE – In the wake of same-sex marriage once again being legalized in Utah – the result of the U.S. Supreme Court denying the state’s request for consideration of its case Monday – people from across the Southern Utah community gathered at Vernon Worthen Park in St. George Monday night to celebrate.
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Videocast by Holly Coombs, St. George News
More than 100 supporters and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community gathered in celebration of the same-sex marriage legalization. (See ed. note)
The coordinator of the event, Linda Stay, said she has two children who are openly gay, and she has been a supporter of Equality Utah for many years because of that. Once the announcement of the law passed, Stay said she started advertising the event.
At 11 a.m. Monday, she posted on Facebook and reserved the gazebo in the park to celebrate the news.
“It’s huge for our whole community,” Stay said. “The decision validates, recognizes and brings dignity to same-sex families; and anytime you do that, it brings dignity to my family.”
Stay spoke to the crowd and recognized many, including Utah’s Sen. Steve Urquhart, House of Representatives candidates Dorothy Engelman and Cheryl Hawker.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” Urquhart said. “Thank you for adopting me into your community. This is a tremendous celebration to gather here. Politically, we may disagree on some things, but there is one huge thing we agree on, and tonight is a huge night, so congratulations.”
Other supporters spoke, including George Stoddard, who said his granddaughter married in New York and was able to adopt two children.
“Now, this month, at the end of this month, these two women are going to get a Utah marriage certificate,” Stoddard said. “My granddaughter-in-law will have legal rights in this relationship in which she has invested her whole being; and now, if something should happen, heaven forbid, to my granddaughter, there will be no question that it’s good for them, it’s good for the children, and that’s good for the family.”
The group attending the celebration enjoyed food and participated in a “love tunnel,” which consisted of the group splitting into two circles and holding hands around the gazebo while others slowly walked through the pathway they formed as the Judds’ song”Love Can Build A Bridge” played over speakers.
Randy Thomson and Matthew Jacobson, members of the LGBT community, announced during the event that they will go before the St. George City Council on Nov. 6 at 5 p.m. to present a local nondiscrimination ordinance.
Thomson said he became open about his sexual orientation in 2008. He said it was difficult growing up in Utah, but he is grateful to see the law accepted.
“It makes Utah an even better place to live in,” Thomson said.
The Supreme Court declined petitions for certiorari Monday morning asking it take up cases from Utah and other states regarding laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. The move effectively upholds rulings by lower district courts that pronounced such laws unconstitutional.
Gov. Gary Herbert said he was disappointed by the high court’s decision, but he also said the state will abide by it. The governor’s office subsequently instructed county clerks across the state to once again issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Same-sex marriage was originally made legal in Utah on Dec. 20, 2013, when federal District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that Amendment 3, Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, was unconstitutional. Between that date and Jan. 6, 2014, more than 1,200 same-sex couples were issued marriage licensees by the state. All the while, Utah was making appeals to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to put a stay, or hold, on Shelby’s ruling. When Shelby’s ruling was stayed pending appeal, the state opted to petition the Supreme Court for review of the issues.
The stay remained in place until the Supreme Court denied hearing the issues and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its order reinstating the mandate of Shelby’s order. Same-sex marriage is, to date, effectively rendered legal in Utah until otherwise decided.
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic and Senior Reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this story.
Ed. note: Number of attendees updated per communication from Dorothy Engelman.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
- Governor says Utah will recognize same-sex marriages
- US Supreme Court denies hearing Utah’s petition on marriage statute
- High court may consider hearing Utah’s same-sex marriage case
- State files cert petition with Supreme Court in defense of marriage laws
- Supreme Court grants stay on same-sex marriage recognition
- Appeals court denies Utah’s request to stay recognition of same-sex marriages
- State leaders, others respond to court striking down Amendment 3
- Judge orders Utah to recognize same-sex marriages from 17-day window
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