Hundreds of people gathered in Salt Lake’s City Creek Park on Wednesday night to celebrate the decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that state laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
The celebrants, waving rainbow flags and hoisting signs with slogans like "Love Always Wins" and "June 25th 2014, Victory, LOVE = LOVE," cheered and hugged as they paid homage to the court’s historic ruling.
"It’s a celebration," said Michelle Berret-Muir, 44, who got to the rally almost an hour early.
Michelle and her wife Romy, 47, were the second couple to wed last December during a 17-day window when same-sex couples could legally marry in Utah.
When the marriage window closed in January, the state no longer recognized the couple as legally married.
"I felt like they were looking at me like, ‘I told you so.’ It makes you self-conscious, like they’re laughing at you," Michelle said. "It sucks, really."
The two said they are hopeful the Supreme Court will ultimately force Utah to recognize their marriage.
Sophia Hawes-Tingey, who in March lost her bid to become the first transgender member of the Utah Legislature, mingled among the crowd of joyful supporters.
Hawes-Tingey met her wife three years ago when they were rehearsing for a performance of the Vagina Monologues. The couple was married on Dec. 30 last year but was denied legal recognition soon after.
"I am ecstatic," Hawes-Tingey said of Wednesday’s ruling. "Like, really happy."
"I want to say, ‘Thank you,’ to Attorney General Reyes and Governor Herbert," she added. "You’ve made it legal to get married in all these states because you fought back."
The evening’s line-up of speakers included former Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, who now serves as co-chair of Utah Unites for Marriage, the group that organized the rally.
"Marriage equality is a fundamental human right," Tolman told the crowd.
"This is not a religious issue. This is not a political issue. This is a legal and a moral issue, and that’s why the courts are getting it right," said Tolman.
Throngs of supporters cheered when Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, a longtime supporter of same-sex marriage, stepped forward to the podium.
"We are at the crossroads of our politics," Gill said. "We are all citizens, or we are not. We are all protected by and can seek shelter under the umbrella of the Constitution, or we cannot."
By upholding a Utah judge’s decision in December to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, a three-member appeals court panel became the first appeals court in the nation to rule on the issue.
But the court immediately stayed the implementation of its decision pending an anticipated appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court — an appeal that will be initiated, the Utah Attorney’s General Office confirmed Wednesday.
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