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GOP lawmakers speak in defense of same-sex marriage ban
Amendment 3 » They say existing law upholds traditional marriage but respects everybody.


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The lawmakers said Utah’s marriage law reflects respect and empathy for all, while upholding traditional marriage. They argue that "conjectural" and "intemperate" assertions by the three same-sex couples challenging Amendment 3 and U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby that the ban is based on animus or inequality are wrong. The laws are simply designed to "endorse and encourage each child’s opportunity to be reared by a married mother and father," the lawmakers said.

And Utah law does not prevent same-sex couples from forming private intimate relations, they add.

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But if marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples, hundreds of statutes that endorse child rearing by a married mother and father could be affected. Among those are laws and policies dealing with premarital counseling, birth and adoption, legal parenthood, child welfare, education, marriage promotion and divorce.

"We do not believe," the brief states, "that a court, considering only the interests of plaintiffs in the case before it, should intrude into the state’s domestic relations authority by attempting a redefinition of marriage that would entail such profound, far-reaching and unconsidered consequences."

Sixteen Utah counties also submitted a brief Monday in support of the state’s same-sex marriage ban: Juab, Beaver, Box Elder, Cache, Emery, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Millard, Morgan, Sanpete, Sevier, Uintah, Utah, Wasatch and Washington counties.

A majority of participating voters in all but two of Utah’s 29 counties cast ballots in favor of Amendment 3 in 2004. The measure failed in Grand and Summit counties.

Voters in the 16 counties, represented by Brigham Young University law professor Lynn D. Wardle and Juab County Attorney Jared W. Eldridge, were heavily in favor of Amendment 3.

Nearly 80 percent of Utah County voters who participated in the general election approved the amendment, while it was passed by a 64 percent of voters in Wasatch County, the lowest margin among the counties.

"The interest in this case of these amici counties is to voice the view of their counties that protection of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is important, and that the laws of the state of Utah so defining marriage are basic civil rights laws protecting the core social institution of society and the values upon which our constitutional government and liberties rest," the counties said in their brief.

They argue "family law was constitutionally to remain subject to state, not national regulation." If federal law must respect state policies that permit same-sex marriage, it also must respect state laws that do not permit such unions.


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"Our federalism encourages diversity," the counties said, "allowing some states to experiment with new forms of marriage, while protecting other states that chose instead to strengthen and preserve traditional marriage."

They also said the three same-sex marriage couples who sued Utah over Amendment 3 are engaged in an "illegitimate attempt to capture marriage for the purpose of promoting another philosophy and policy extraneous to the purpose of marriage."

In all, nearly two dozen groups or individuals, ranging from social science academics to a faith coalition that includes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have filed amicus briefs.

Utah, which filed its opening brief Feb. 3, is seeking to overturn Shelby’s Dec. 20 decision that found the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. The 10th Circuit has set oral arguments in the Utah case for April 10, and in a similar Oklahoma case for April 17.

brooke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @Brooke4Trib



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