SALT LAKE CITY – The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a December ruling that struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday.
The appeals court ruled 2-1 that Judge Robert Shelby’s summary judgment against Utah’s Amendment 3 violates 14th Amendment rights of same-sex couples who wish to marry.
For ten days at the end of December 2013 and into January, Shelby’s ruling made same-sex marriage legal in Utah, prompting thousands to obtain licenses at county clerk offices across the state.
More than 160 couples obtained licenses in Davis County, before the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay on same-sex marriages.
That stay remained in place after Wednesday’s ruling, pending a decision from the Supreme Court.
The ruling on Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is one of several from around the country before the Supreme Court. Utah is one of 33 states to have banned gay marriage.
The Court is expected to make a ruling on the matter sometime this summer.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, whose office made the appeal – issued the following statement regarding the 10th Circuit Court’s ruling:
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.
The Utah ACLU also issued a statement, saying:
“This is a proud day for everybody in the state of Utah, and everybody across the country, who supports marriage equality,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah. “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.”
U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch also issued a statement regarding the ruling, saying:
“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 Democratic Party Chairman and state senator Jim Dabakis (who was married to his partner directly after Shelby’s ruling) also responded to the ruling, saying:
"I am joyas[sic], as I know hundreds of thousands of LGBT folks and their families are, all across the great state of Utah. This is a pro-family decision and it fits squarely with true Utah family values--love, kindness and a fair playing field for all It wonderful to see Utah, once again lead the country in gay rights."
Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s office also issued a statement (Herbert is one of the plaintiffs in the case before the appeals court - Kitchen vs. Herbert):
"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."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also issued the following statement:
"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."
Stay with the Clipper for updates on this story.