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Utah appealing gay-marriage case directly to Supreme Court

Bypassing a full-court review by the 10th Circuit Court, the state wants U.S. Supreme Court to rule.

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This dissent mirrored closely the state’s argument that defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman is a state’s right, exercised to benefit and protect children.

But families at Wednesday’s rally before the Governor’s Mansion said if the state wants to protect all families, it should withdraw its appeal of the Kitchen case, as well as its opposition to another lawsuit brought by several of the more than 1,000 same-sex couples who wed during a 17-day window when such unions were legal, challenging the state to recognize their marriages.

At a glance

A time line of Utah’s same-sex marriage saga

Nov. 2, 2004 » Utah passes Amendment 3, which states that “marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman.”

March 25, 2013 » Three couples file a lawsuit alleging Utah’s Amendment 3 violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

June 26, 2013 » The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred gay marriage, and declines to rule on California’s Proposition 8, clearing the way for same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

Dec. 20, 2013 » U.S. District Judge Shelby strikes down Utah’s Amendment 3 as unconstitutional, opening the door to same-sex marriage in the state. More than 1,000 same-sex couples obtain marriage licenses during the next 17 days.

Jan. 6, 2014 » The U.S. Supreme Court grants the Utah Attorney General’s Office request for a stay, ending same-sex marriage in Utah pending the 10th Circuit Court outcome of the state’s appeal of Shelby’s ruling.

March 12, 2014 » Utah decides to place same-sex marriages performed before the stay “on hold,” rather than fully recognize or refuse to recognize them.

May 19, 2014 » U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball orders Utah to honor and recognize all same-sex marriages performed while Judge Shelby’s ruling was in effect.

June 6, 2014 » The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stayed Kimball’s ruling, halting any movement toward marriage recognition. (The case remains on hold.)

June 25, 2014 » The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that states outlawing same-sex marriage are in violation of the U.S. Constitution, but the court issues an immediate stay to its own ruling, anticipating an appeal by Utah to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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"It’s time for the governor and the attorney general to stop hurting Utah’s families," said Crystal Young-Otterstrom. "Utah has lost at every single turn when courts and judges have had a chance to evaluate whether excluding LGBT families from marriage is allowed under our country’s or our state’s Constitution. Pushing this narrow view on what it means to be a family sits in deep conflict with our shared community values of fairness, love and freedom for all people."

Young-Otterstrom and her husband, Joel Otterstrom, both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said they want their two young children to grow up in a state where different families are treated equally.

"Some of [our kids’] friends have two daddies and some have two mommies," Young-Otterstrom said. "It doesn’t really make a difference."

As she and other Utah families stood before the small crowd to speak, supporters held tight to photos of their families, to signs calling for love and acceptance, and to each other.

Candice Green-Berrett and her wife Megan Berrett passed their 10-month-old daughter Quinn back and forth as they explained that despite the state’s ardent defense of its same-sex marriage ban, they remain hopeful that change will come.

The U.S. Supreme Court is not obligated to hear Utah’s appeal — or any case regarding state same-sex marriage bans.

Should the justices decline to hear such a case, the rulings of lower courts, like that of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, would stand as the law of the land.

"We don’t really know if the Supreme Court will take this up or they won’t," said Equality Utah Executive Director Brandie Balken, who attended Wednesday’s march. "Unfortunately, today we have families, couples, children who are living in legal limbo."

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Charles A. Stormont, who is the Democratic candidate opposing Reyes in his bid for the office of attorney general, said if he were Utah’s top prosecutor, he would immediately drop the case against same-sex marriage.

"This appeal is an enormous waste of money and we should be fighting to protect people’s rights, not to take them away," Stormont said in a statement. "The state has no business dictating how people build their families, and the State should never tell children or their parents that they are second-class citizens."


Twitter: @Marissa_Jae

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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