Showing posts with label Gay Marriage Utah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Marriage Utah. Show all posts

October 8, 2014

Church of JC of Latter Day Saints Says Gay Marriage is Settled Law


                                                                            

Utah’s predominant religion, which has opposed same-sex marriage for decades, now acknowledges the issue is largely settled.
“As far as the civil law is concerned," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday afternoon, "the courts have spoken."
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not take up Utah and other states’ appeals to reinstate their bans on gay marriage.
Some faiths, most notably the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, are not so sure the legal battle is over, while others, supportive of gay marriage, are hoping it is.
The justices’ decision doesn’t do anything, Bishop John C. Wester said in an interview. "It is just keeping us in the same relative position. We don’t know what is going to happen in the future."
Wester, leader of the state’s 300,000 Catholics, is "not a legal expert," he said, "but I don’t see this as a permanent solution."
To Catholics, marriage is "a sacred, sacramental covenant, permanent and open to procreation," he added. "There is no other relationship like it — it’s unique. The state seeking to change that definition is not a good thing for society at large. We respect others’ right to disagree, but we feel we have a right and responsibility to say what we believe marriage is."
The Rev. Jim Harris, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Murray, also wished the high court would have heard the case.
"I would like to have a decision one way or the other," Harris said. "Our church opposes gay marriage. For us, marriage is between a man and a woman. We believe that is a Bible stance. Gays have plenty of benefits through civil unions."
Whether permanent or temporary, the "succession of federal court decisions in recent months, culminating in today’s announcement by the Supreme Court, will have no effect on the doctrinal position or practices of [the LDS Church], which is that only marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable to God," the Salt Lake City-based faith stated on its website. “In prizing freedom of conscience and constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religion, we will continue to teach that standard and uphold it in our religious practices." The LDS news release also encouraged Mormons "to be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or nonbelief, and differences in sexual orientation."
That sentiment echoed one offered this past weekend by LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks during the faith’s General Conference.
"When our positions do not prevail," Oaks said Saturday, "we should accept unfavorable results graciously, and practice civility with our adversaries."
Several other religious and civic figures pointed to Oaks’ remarks as evidence of a welcome sea change in Mormon attitudes and as an appropriate response to Monday’s events.
The Rev. Patty Willis, pastor of the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Cottonwood Heights, cheered the decision as "a modern-day miracle."
The "universe is moving towards justice," said Willis, whose congregation is home to many gay couples. "We are all amazed and thrilled by the news today."
The pastor, a former Mormon, also was touched by Oaks’ comments.
The LDS apostle "has not always been so positive [about gay rights] in the past," she said. “The fact that he was 
calling for more civility — which means more listening to one another — is a step towards more understanding and mutual respect."
The Rev. Jean Schwien, pastor of Salt Lake City’s Christ United Methodist Church, praised Monday’s events as affirming the "dignity and rights of all human beings equally, and, in that light, we celebrate this decision."
Utah Episcopal Bishop Scott B. Hayashi has been a "supporter of my gay and lesbian friends and church members in this," he said, and is "very happy for them and for all of us who have been hoping and praying that they would be able to have their loving relationships legally recognized."
Hayashi, though, recognizes others have been praying for a different outcome.

Utah’s predominant religion, which has opposed same-sex marriage for decades, now acknowledges the issue is largely settled.
“As far as the civil law is concerned," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday afternoon, "the courts have spoken."
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not take up Utah and other states’ appeals to reinstate their bans on gay marriage.
Some faiths, most notably the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, are not so sure the legal battle is over, while others, supportive of gay marriage, are hoping it is.
The justices’ decision doesn’t do anything, Bishop John C. Wester said in an interview. "It is just keeping us in the same relative position. We don’t know what is going to happen in the future."
Wester, leader of the state’s 300,000 Catholics, is "not a legal expert," he said, "but I don’t see this as a permanent solution."
To Catholics, marriage is "a sacred, sacramental covenant, permanent and open to procreation," he added. "There is no other relationship like it — it’s unique. The state seeking to change that definition is not a good thing for society at large. We respect others’ right to disagree, but we feel we have a right and responsibility to say what we believe marriage is."
The Rev. Jim Harris, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Murray, also wished the high court would have heard the case.
"I would like to have a decision one way or the other," Harris said. "Our church opposes gay marriage. For us, marriage is between a man and a woman. We believe that is a Bible stance. Gays have plenty of benefits through civil unions."
Whether permanent or temporary, the "succession of federal court decisions in recent months, culminating in today’s announcement by the Supreme Court, will have no effect on the doctrinal position or practices of [the LDS Church], which is that only marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable to God," the Salt Lake City-based faith stated on its website. “In prizing freedom of conscience and constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religion, we will continue to teach that standard and uphold it in our religious practices." 
The LDS news release also encouraged Mormons "to be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or nonbelief, and differences in sexual orientation."
That sentiment echoed one offered this past weekend by LDS apostle Dallin H. Oaks during the faith’s General Conference.
"When our positions do not prevail," Oaks said Saturday, "we should accept unfavorable results graciously, and practice civility with our adversaries."
Several other religious and civic figures pointed to Oaks’ remarks as evidence of a welcome sea change in Mormon attitudes and as an appropriate response to Monday’s events.
The Rev. Patty Willis, pastor of the South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Cottonwood Heights, cheered the decision as "a modern-day miracle."
The "universe is moving towards justice," said Willis, whose congregation is home to many gay couples. "We are all amazed and thrilled by the news today."
The pastor, a former Mormon, also was touched by Oaks’ comments.
The LDS apostle "has not always been so positive [about gay rights] in the past," she said. “The fact that he was calling for more civility — which means more listening to one another — is a step towards more understanding and mutual respect."
The Rev. Jean Schwien, pastor of Salt Lake City’s Christ United Methodist Church, praised Monday’s events as affirming the "dignity and rights of all human beings equally, and, in that light, we celebrate this decision."
Utah Episcopal Bishop Scott B. Hayashi has been a "supporter of my gay and lesbian friends and church members in this," he said, and is "very happy for them and for all of us who have been hoping and praying that they would be able to have their loving relationships legally recognized."
Hayashi, though, recognizes others have been praying for a different outcome.
"I consider them to be friends; I am sad for them," the bishop said. "I understand their unhappiness, frustration and loss. When my friends hurt, I hurt, too."

Referring to Oaks’ comments, Hayashi said, he, too, plans to “practice not only civility but also compassion."


July 11, 2014

What is Next for US Gay marriage after Utah’s Appeal?


                                                                       

Utah's decision to ask the nation's highest court to review a federal appeals court ruling in favor of gay marriage nudges the issue closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.
State officials said Wednesday they plan to ask the justices to review a June 25 ruling from a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found Utah's same-sex marriage ban violates the Constitution. It was the first time an appellate court found a Supreme Court decision last year means states cannot deny gays the right to wed.
The high court is under no obligation to the take the case, and it may wait for rulings from one or more of the five other appellate courts with pending gay marriage cases. But the pressure is mounting with same-sex marriage bans falling across the country.
Including Wednesday's by a judge in Colorado who struck down that state's ban, gay rights activists have won 20 court cases over the past year. Here are some key things to know about the gay marriage movement and where it's headed:
———
WHEN DOES THE ISSUE RETURN TO THE SUPREME COURT?
Legal experts say the Supreme Court eventually will take a gay marriage case, even though it is not required to take up the issue. But they say it won't do so until 2015 at the earliest.
The 10th Circuit panel is the first to rule out of six circuits hearing appeals. In any of the appellate cases, the losing party can appeal directly to the Supreme Court, or first ask for the entire appellate court to review the ruling.
It's unclear which case would reach the high court first. The Supreme Court also could hold off and see how the nation's appellate courts rule. It often waits until there is a conflict between appellate courts before taking a case.
———
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF GAY MARRIAGE CASES IN OTHER APPEALS COURTS?
Judges in a total of six federal appeals courts and one state appeals court are hearing appeals of lower court rulings that overturned gay marriage bans or ordered states to recognize out-of-state marriages.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about Virginia's ban in early May, and a ruling is expected soon. Arguments are scheduled for Aug. 6 in the 6th District Court of Appeals to discuss cases out of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee; and Sept. 8 in the 9th District Court of Appeals for cases out of Nevada and Idaho.
The ruling by the 10th Circuit panel is now law in the six states covered by the court: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. But gay marriages won't be happening in those states — at least not right away — because the 10th Circuit immediately put its decision on hold pending an appeal.
———
WHAT TRIGGERED THE SERIES OF PRO-GAY MARRIAGE DECISIONS?
The Supreme Court last year found that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that forbade the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage improperly deprived gay couples of due process. That ruling came as polls showed a majority of Americans now support gay marriage.
Lower-court judges repeatedly have cited that decision when striking down gay marriage bans.
So far, federal and state judges have ruled against bans in Arkansas, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana and Colorado. They have ordered Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
Gay marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
By BRADY McCOMBS and NICHOLAS RICCARDI Associated Press

April 11, 2014

Judges in Utah Question Lawyers on Gay Marriage



                                                                             


Sharp questioning Thursday by a divided panel of appellate judges considering Utah's ban on gay marriages showed that, while same-sex marriage has had a remarkable winning streak lately, its legal status remains uncertain.
The three judges of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals were divided over how much the landscape has changed since the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. The high court found that the law violated gay couples' due process rights by forbidding the federal government from recognizing their marriages.
An attorney representing three Utah gay couples argued that meant any state law that bars gays from something as fundamentally important as marriage should be voided. Eight federal judges have, to varying degrees, agreed since the Supreme Court ruling, striking down a series of state gay marriage bans, or bans on recognizing same-sex marriages from other states.
One of those judges in December struck down Utah's 2004 voter-approved gay marriage ban, and it was the appeal of that ruling that the randomly selected three-judge panel heard Thursday. It is the first time gay marriage has reached the appellate court level since the Supreme Court's ruling in June 2013.
Judge Carlos Lucero cited gay marriage's legal success and compared the state's argument that the ban should stand to the Supreme Court's infamous Dred Scott decision that denied citizenship and constitutional protections to blacks before the Civil War.
"The law does not allow the type of discriminatory behavior that is at issue in these type of cases," Lucero said.
But Utah's attorney argued that the Supreme Court left the definition of marriage to states, and that the lower court judges have erred. Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. suggested Utah's voters have the right to reaffirm what has been a centuries-long tradition of heterosexual marriage.
"You are just taking the position they are wrong on this. We'll just ignore what the people have decided and the Legislature has done," Kelly told Peggy Tomsic, who represented the plaintiffs.
The swing vote in the case appeared to be Judge Jerome A. Holmes, who had pointed questions for both sides. He compared Utah's same-sex marriage ban to Virginia's ban on interracial marriages, which the Supreme Court struck down in 1967.
That law "made that mixed-race couple essentially an 'other' for the purposes of marriage," Holmes said. "Why is that any different from this situation?"
But in addressing the plaintiffs' attorneys, Holmes said gay marriage is a new and novel concept, and courts should defer to the democratic process unless there are pressing reasons to intervene.
"What Utah has done is validated what has been historical practice forever," he told Tomsic.
The three-judge panel is not expected to rule for several months. The losing party can appeal its decision to the full 10th Circuit or directly to the Supreme Court. Though Utah's case is the furthest along, similar gay marriage cases are working their way through at least four other federal appeals circuits. It is unclear which would reach the high court first.
Gene Schaerr, who represented Utah, warned that if the state could not define marriage the way it wanted, it might have to open the door to polygamy. But under questioning, he acknowledged the ban harms children of same-sex couples and that the state has no scientific evidence showing gays are worse parents than heterosexuals.
Still, he said, legal precedent allows the state to define marriage. "Governments are entitled to legislate on the basis of risks that they perceive to their population," Schaerr argued.
Tomsic contended that judges are allowed to overturn democratic decisions if they target a class of people.
"It is every day of these Utah citizens' lives that they must face the stigma, the harm of being treated as second-class citizens," she said.
On April 17, the same three judges are scheduled to hear an appeal of a January ruling that struck down Oklahoma's gay marriage ban. Holmes was appointed by President George W. Bush; Lucero by President Bill Clinton; and Kelly by President George H.W. Bush.
The legal sparring took place in a packed courtroom filled with dozens of spectators who waited hours for a seat, as well as the three couples who filed the initial lawsuit, and Tomsic's wife and their son.
Before the arguments, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes walked over to the couples and told them: "I'm sorry that we're causing you pain. ... Sometime after the case, I hope we can sit down."
Reyes later declined to tell reporters whether he supported the measure banning gay marriage.
More than 1,000 gay Utah couples married in the days after the December decision, until the Supreme Court stayed the ruling. Outside the courthouse, Reyes told reporters he understands the case is emotional, praised the plaintiffs' attorneys and said all sides were acting professionally.
"This case is about the right of a state like Utah to define something as fundamental as marriage," he said.
Derek Kitchen, one of the plaintiffs, told reporters that he appreciated Reyes' remarks but that the debate has been painful. "It is hard to hear people argue against us, because we are loving individuals who have committed ourselves to our partners emotionally and spiritually," he said, embracing his husband, Moudy Sbeity.
But Kitchen said he remained optimistic. "We are on the right side of history," he said.
___
Associated Press writer Colleen Slevin contributed to this report.

January 20, 2014

How Sundance is Doing its Part to Bring Gay Marriage to Utah


Sundance Critic’s Notebook: Gay Marriage Comes to Utah, and Michael Fassbender Gets a Head


Marriage equality plays a role in very different movies, both documentary and narrative
No one had expected that Utah would come in earlier than, say, Number 48 on the list of U.S. states that would allow same-sex marriage, but a recent court decision (currently being contested) made this very red state, for a little while anyway, a celebratory place for gay and lesbian couples looking to tie the knot.
And while the courts did plenty to bring gay marriage to Utah, the Sundance Film Festival is certainly playing its part, with three films showcased on Saturday featuring same-sex nuptials in varying contexts.
The highest profile of these was no doubt Ira Sachs’ eagerly anticipated “Love Is Strange,” starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as longtime companions who find themselves, not long after saying “I do,” forced to live separately when they lose their Manhattan apartment.
 Sachs, coming off the acclaim of the much grimmer “Keep the Lights On,” has probably never enjoyed this much of a marquee cast (the ensemble also includes Marisa Tomei and Cheyenne Jackson), but if you think he’s gone soft and made a film that’s merely cute and accessible, think again. (And if the title led you to expect Mickey & Sylvia on the soundtrack, get ready for some lovely Chopin selections instead.)
Ben (Lithgow) and George (Molina) find themselves having to give up their co-op after news of their wedding leads to George losing his gig as a choir director at a Catholic school. George moves in with the hard-partying gay cop neighbors, while Ben literally bunks with his nephew’s family.
It’s a graceful and witty film about aging and the awkwardness of being an extended houseguest, and anchoring everything are the performances by the two leads, who are naturally affectionate throughout. So often when straight actors take on a gay role, you can feel them handling it with tongs, but Lithgow and Molina get the easy rhythm that develops between two people who have spent decades together. Even when they aren’t touching, you can feel their bond, to the point where each conveys a feeling of absence when the other isn’t around.
“Love Is Strange” doesn’t travel a predictable path, and some mainstream audiences may find themselves put off by some of the climactic moments, but it’s a smart and very heartfelt love story.
The_Case_Against_8__still6_NA__byDianaWalker_2013-11-29_04-35-06PMSpeaking of love stories, the documentary “The Case Against 8” (scheduled to premiere on HBO in June) is more than the tale of two couples who want to be married; it’s a valentine to the Constitution and to the American judicial process. Filmmakers Ben Cotner (a former exec at Paramount and current one at Open Road) and Ryan White (“Good Ol’ Freda”) enjoyed unparalleled access to the five-year court case against Proposition 8, a ballot initiative in California that overturned a state supreme court decision that allowed same-sex couples to marry.
Now that we know the American Foundation for Equal Rights’ efforts paid off, it’s easy to think that this entire battle would inevitably lead to victory, but the film reminds us that even LGBT advocates were dubious at first — wait a few years for public opinion to come around, said some, while others were suspicious that Ted Olson, who represented the GOP in Bush v. Gore, would be handling the case with his 2000 opponent David Boies.
 Kudos to editor Kate Amend for skillfully interweaving the legal part of the storytelling with the portraits of the four defendants: Berkeley moms Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, and Burbank-based Jeffrey Zarillo and Paul Katami. “The Case Against 8” appeals both to the emotions and to the intellect, and it’s bound to become a cornerstone among the ongoing representations of the LGBT civil rights movement.
ToBeTakei_still2_GeorgeTakei__byNA_2013-11-29_09-10-27PMAlso fighting that good fight is actor George Takei, and the charming documentary “To Be Takei” shows us that there’s a lot more to the actor than just playing Mr. Sulu. Survivor of a Japanese-American internment camp, L.A. city council candidate, Howard Stern foil and Facebook star, Takei has brilliantly reinvented himself over and over again.
(And yes, we get to see him get married to longtime partner Brad.)
Much like “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” “To Be Takei” takes us up close and personal with a hard-working (there’s even the requisite filled-in-appointment-book scene) pop culture icon who has survived life struggles and discrimination and emerged late in life more popular than ever. Oh my, indeed.
 Frank_still1_MaggieGyllenhaal_MichaelFassbender_DomhnallGleeson__byLoreySebastian_2013-11-27_08-37-29AMOn the non-gay-marriage beat, I also checked out the new Irish comedy “Frank,” starring Domhnall Gleeson (“About Time”) as a would-be musician who gets dragooned into playing keyboards for an avant-garde combo with an unpronounceable name and a lead singer (Michael Fassbender in the title role) who is never without a giant head mask.
There’s a familiar eccentricity about the film, from the band’s arduous recording process to a singularly disastrous debut at South by Southwest, but what’s most annoying about “Frank” is that we follow Gleeson’s character, who is treated like crap by most of Frank’s bandmates, and then by the end of the movie, we’re supposed to admire the band’s integrity and dislike Gleeson’s attempts to publicize their work.
A strong cast (which also features Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy and Tess Harper) does fine work for director Lenny Abrahamson, but ultimately “Frank” feels as pretentious and snotty as Gyllenhaal’s theremin-playing harridan. (If your idea of a dream band is Sonic Youth fronted by Jim Morrison, however, you might like the film better than I did.)

January 11, 2014

Pres. Obama Says Feds will Honor Utah Gay Marriages







The Obama administration on Friday said that it would recognize as lawful the marriages of 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah, even though the state government is refusing to do so.

Wading into the fast-moving legal battle over same-sex marriage rights in one of America’s most socially conservative states, the administration posted a video on the Justice Department’s website making the announcement. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that the federal government would grant federal marriage benefits to the same-sex couples who rushed to obtain marriage licenses after a federal judge last month unexpectedly struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

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Ryan Utah
I am a Utah native and an active Mormon...I see this as an issue of civil rights, and because we live in a Republic and not a democracy, the civil rights of an individual trump any state or federal ruling. 
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“I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages,” Mr. Holder said in the video. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”

The Justice Department’s intervention added a further sense of whiplash to the highly charged dispute, which began on Dec. 20 when a Federal District Court judge, Robert J. Shelby, ruled that Utah’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman violated the federal Constitution.

As same-sex couples flooded county clerk’s offices in Utah, the state government asked a higher court to block the order while it appealed the ruling, but a federal appeals court declined to do so, and the marriages continued. On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a stay, bringing a halt to further same-sex marriages while the litigation continues. That decision effectively left those same-sex couples in legal limbo.

Then, on Wednesday, the office of the governor of Utah, Gary R. Herbert, said that the state would not recognize as lawful the same-sex marriages already licensed while it pressed forward with its appeal of the ruling.

“The original laws governing marriage in Utah return to effect pending final resolution by the courts,” Derek Miller, the chief of staff to Mr. Herbert, wrote in a memo to state officials. “It is important to understand that those laws include not only a prohibition of performing same-sex marriages but also recognizing same-sex marriages.”

But Mr. Holder said the federal government would not do likewise. He invoked as a historic call for equality a June ruling by the Supreme Court that struck down a ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriages that are legal under state law, saying the Justice Department was “working tirelessly to implement it in both letter and spirit.”

“In the days ahead, we will continue to coordinate across the federal government to ensure the timely provision of every federal benefit to which Utah couples and couples throughout the country are entitled — regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex marriages,” Mr. Holder said. “And we will continue to provide additional information as soon as it becomes available.”

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Dan 
This is an ongoing attempt to codify religious beliefs of the dominant religion.
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A variety of federal benefits are accorded to legally married couples, including being able to file jointly for federal income taxes; exemption from estate taxes and eligibility for some Social Security claims if one spouse dies; eligibility for health and life insurance for spouses of federal employees; the ability to sponsor a spouse who is not a United States citizen for a family-based immigration visa; and eligibility for survivor benefits for spouses of soldiers and diplomats.

In Utah, gay couples and supporters of same-sex marriage cheered the federal government’s move. Many were disappointed and angered by Utah’s move not to recognize their new marriages, and they have argued that, despite the continuing legal battle, their nuptials are just as valid as any in Utah.


COMMENTS
“It feels like a little victory after the last couple days with our governor,” said Austin Vance, who married his partner last month at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office. “It definitely raises spirits a little bit. It was disturbing that our gov would make those assertions that we wouldn’t be recognized.”

Mr. Vance said he had been racing to officially change his last name and get a new driver’s license and other government documents since marrying his partner. He said that despite the state’s directives, he and his partner would still list each other as spouses on state paperwork, and seek the benefits due to married couples in Utah.

“We’re going to continue to file and act as if we’re married,” he said. “Some people have said that’s an act of civil disobedience. If it is, so be it.”

Jack Healy contributed reporting from Denver.
nytimes.com

January 7, 2014

The Supremes Halt Gay Marriage in Utah Until Appeal


The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday halted same-sex marriages in Utah -- permitted for less than three weeks -- while the state appeals a lower-court ruling legalizing them, as the justices again left their imprint on the debate over gay nuptials.
The high court granted a request from state officials appealing a federal judge's December 20 ruling that had allowed same-sex weddings to go ahead in the heavily Mormon state.
 The action by the court means that gay weddings in the state are on hold for now while the case is appealed to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Hundreds of gay couples in Utah have received marriage licenses since the ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby.
The stay created uncertainty about the legal status of the roughly 1,000 same-sex marriages that have taken place so far.
Sean Reyes, Utah's attorney general, told reporters in Salt Lake City that the state is not yet certain whether the stay invalidates existing marriages.
"This is precisely the uncertainty that we were hoping to avoid," Reyes said. "It's unfortunate that many Utah citizens have been put into this legal limbo."
Gary Herbert, Utah's Republican governor, said Shelby should have stayed his ruling, as officials had requested. The appeals court also declined to stay the decision, which prompted the state's emergency application to the high court.
"I firmly believe this is a state-rights issue and I will work to defend the position of the people of Utah and our state constitution," Herbert said in a statement.
The Supreme Court's action on Monday was only on the matter of whether there should be a stay of Shelby's ruling. The high court's order was two sentences long, with no justices writing individual opinions indicating where they might stand on the merits of the case.
But the fact the court granted the stay was enough to put the spotlight on where the justices stand on gay marriage six months after their two high-profile decisions on the matter.
One ruling struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal law that denied federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. The other paved the way for gay marriage to resume in California.
In both cases, the court avoided making any sweeping pronouncements about a right to gay marriage in the United States.
The appeals court has already agreed to hear the Utah case on an expedited schedule, with a Feb. 25 deadline for court papers.
Terry Henry, a Utah special education teacher who took advantage of Shelby's decision to marry Penny Kirby, said she was surprised by the decision to grant a stay.
"The world seems a little less stable today," Henry said.
Henry, 47, added that she wonders what impact the stay might have on her newly minted family's rights. Having a marriage license allowed Henry to add the unemployed Kirby, 51, to her work-based health insurance just last week.
'An affront'
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage, characterized Monday's high court action as a repudiation of Shelby's decision.
"The actions of this activist judge are an affront to the rule of law and the sovereign rights of the people of Utah to define marriage," he said in a statement.
Gay marriage supporters including the American Civil Liberties Union sought to downplay the high court's action.
"Despite today's decision, we are hopeful that the lower court's well-reasoned decision will be upheld in the end and that courts across the country will continue to recognize that all couples should have the freedom to marry," ACLU lawyer Joshua Block said in a statement.
Utah become the 18th state - at least temporarily - where gay marriage was permitted when Shelby sided with three same-sex couples in their lawsuit challenging a voter-passed amendment to the Utah state constitution that defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.
Little more than a decade ago, none of the 50 U.S. states recognized same-sex marriage. Since then, attitudes have changed rapidly in some parts of the country.
At the time of the Supreme Court rulings in June, only 12 states and the District of Columbia recognized gay marriage. Since then, more states have followed, some via legislative action and others due to court rulings. Hawaii, Illinois and New Mexico are the most recent states where gay marriage has become legal.
Shelby's decision came as a shock to many of Utah's 2.8 million residents, nearly two-thirds of whom are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon doctrine states that sexual relations outside opposite-sex marriage are contrary to the will of God.
Utah's stay application relied in part on the high court's June decision in United States v. Windsor, which, although it struck down DOMA, also said the definition of marriage was largely a matter of state law.
In the Windsor case, in which the court was split 5-4, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority that the federal law violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection.
Reuters

Jonathan Capehart say on The Washington post:

That a federal judge in Utah tossed out the state’s ban on gay marriage was remarkable. Even more stunning is the more than 900 same-sex couples in Utah who have gotten hitched in the 17 days since the judge ruled that the prohibition violated the equal protection guarantee in the U.S. Constitution.
Wrap your mind around that. There are legally married gay and lesbian couples in one of the reddest states in the nation. What it also means is that there are two classes of same-sex couples in Utah. The ones who are legally married can now avail themselves of all the rights and responsibilities that accrue to marriage on the federal level. The others? Well, they can’t do anything until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit hands down its expedited ruling this year.

But what today’s Supreme Court action does is guarantee that more lawsuits will be filed to get the justices to do what they opted not to do last June: rule in favor of a constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry. This is a “when,” not “if,” proposition. With same-sex couples already able to marry in 17 states plus the District of Columbia, it’s just a matter of time, folks.

December 28, 2013

Utah Like Texas Did is Taking Gay Marriage to the Supreme Court




As I seat on my desk observing by the window besides it the shadows of the trees that have lost all their leaves due to the season but still stand in a heroic way looking up to the heavens. Gay marriage in Utah is on my mind and I want to write if in deed the case is going to the United States Supreme Court. As I do some research I find the voice of a lawyer writing about the case. Now I need to find any data I don’t know and Im sure I can’t even  quote him because Im assuming he is against it, he is a Utah lawyer after all.  Instead I find the voice of an experienced lawyer who also is following gay marriage cases in a fair way and how they connect to the Constitution.

The name of this lawyer is Rick L. Knuth and he writes an op-ed on Salt Lake Tribune. The case is going to the Supreme Court just like it did starting with Texas with the results the Gay community was hopping and praying for. I remember how happy I was when ‘that’ couple was arrested in Texas because it was assumed they were having homosexual sex in their own home (enjoying too much and making the usual sounds). Only in Texas or the Soviet Union, I mean Russia! These extreme cases of injustice and homophobia only illustrates to those with the wrong information or those neutrals of why gay marriage is important even to someone who does not believe in gay marriage or any type of marriage. It’s a case of justice for all.  You don’t have to do it but if you allow some to do it then all should have the same right if they want to use it or not but If you come against it you are depriving those who dearly wants it! We all have rights we might not even use, some not even aware of them. Just because there is freedom of the press does not mean you have to be a reporter, or be part of a militia or carry a gun.

 Mr. Knuth explains  the Utah case:

I have practiced law in Salt Lake City for almost 33 years. I think I can write with some authority about the Dec. 20 decision by Federal District Judge Robert J. Shelby, enjoining the State of Utah from enforcing its constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage ("Robert J. Shelby: The man who made same-sex marriage legal in Utah," Tribune, Dec. 23).
The ruling was but a short and inevitable extension of the United State Supreme Court’s decisions in Loving (striking Virginia’s ban on miscegenation), Lawrence (Texas arrested two same-sex citizens for having private, consensual sex), and last summer’s Windsor case (which invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act), Constitutional rights are not voted on, no matter how large and determined is the majority who wish to deny their fellow citizens the enjoyment of some protected right.
I could also point out that courts, unlike elected officials, must decide the case and controversy that comes before them. A governor and a legislature can postpone, delay or ignore an issue, can appoint a committee or outside panel of experts to study it and report later — sometimes very later.
A court, however, has to make a decision in the moment. The parties are there, and they are entitled to a ruling. A judge cannot say "No thanks, folks, come back later when the public will be better disposed to me giving you what you are entitled to,"
And whereas the executive and legislative branches can indulge the luxury of looking at issues in a detached, generalized and philosophical way, judges must look the litigants in the eye, as individuals with a dispute that demands resolution.
It is beyond dispute that the three sets of same-sex couples who looked Judge Shelby in the eye have relationships that are loving, faithful, and bound by ties of caring and mutual support, representing the best qualities traditional marriage has to offer. These people have built those relationships themselves, sometimes over decades and with scant support from the larger community. They want only the same legal protections afforded to heterosexual couples.
But I did not first encounter same-sex relationships in the law office or the courtroom, but in church. In my church it is said that the purpose of marriage is not to make us happy, but to make us holy. Through my church I have seen same sex affection build relationships that can only be called holy, and that stand in stark contrast to the many sinful ways that human sexuality can be expressed.
This is why my church has, for many years, blessed the covenanted unions of same-sex partners and why we perform marriages for same-sex couples where it is legal to do so. In so doing, we promise to support them in their lives together.
For Utahns who are lamenting the legality of same-sex marriage, please take a deep breath. Neither the Constitution nor the scriptures have changed.

December 21, 2013

A Frenzy to get Marry after Judge Strikes Down Ban on Gay Marriage in Utah

   

                                        Judge strikes down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage
 A federal judge struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban Friday in a decision that marks a drastic shift toward gay marriage in a conservative state where the Mormon church has long been against it.
The decision set off an immediate frenzy as the clerk in the state's most populous county began issuing marriage licenses to dozens of gay couples while state officials took steps to appeal the ruling and halt the process.
Cheers erupted as the mayor of Salt Lake City led one of the state's first gay wedding ceremonies in an office building about three miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church.
Deputy Salt Lake County Clerk Dahnelle Burton-Lee said the district attorney authorized her office to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples but she couldn't immediately say how many had been issued.
Just hours earlier, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued a 53-page ruling saying the constitutional amendment Utah voters approved in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples' rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Shelby said the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.
"In the absence of such evidence, the State's unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the State's refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens," Shelby wrote.
The decision drew a swift and angry reaction from Utah leaders, including Republican Gov. Gary Herbert.
"I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. I am working with my legal counsel and the acting attorney general to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah," Herbert said.
The state filed a notice of appeal late Friday and was working on a request for an emergency stay that would stop marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples.
"It will probably take a little bit of time to get everything in place," said Ryan Bruckman, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. He said the judge told the attorney general's office it would be a couple of days before any request for an emergency stay would be reviewed.
The ruling has thrust Shelby into the national spotlight less than two years after Congress approved his nomination to the federal bench. He was appointed by President Barack Obama after GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch recommended him in November 2011.
Shelby served in the Utah Army National Guard from 1988 to 1996 and was a combat engineer in Operation Desert Storm. He graduated from the University of Virginia law school in 1998 and clerked for the U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene in Utah, then spent about 12 years in private practice before he became a judge.
In his ruling, Shelby wrote that the right to marry is a fundamental right protected by the U.S. Constitution.
"These rights would be meaningless if the Constitution did not also prevent the government from interfering with the intensely personal choices an individual makes when that person decides to make a solemn commitment to another human being," Shelby wrote.
Many similar challenges to same-sex marriage bans are pending in other states, but the Utah case has been closely watched because of the state's history of staunch opposition to gay marriage as the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The church said in a statement Friday that it stands by its support for "traditional marriage."
"We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court," the church said.
Not all Mormons were disappointed. A group called Mormons for Equality applauded the ruling, saying it was particularly sweet coming in "the heartland of our faith."
The group has been among the leaders of growing movement among Mormons to push the church to teach that homosexuality isn't a sin.
The Mormon church's stance has softened considerably since it was one of the leading forces behind California's short-lived same-sex-marriage ban, Proposition 8, in 2008. A church website launched this year encourages more compassion toward gays, and church leaders backed the Boy Scouts' recent policy allowing gay youth.
The Utah ruling comes the same week New Mexico's highest court legalized gay marriage after declaring it unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A new law passed in Hawaii last month now allows gay couples to marry there.
If the ruling stands, Utah would become the 18th state to allow gay marriages, said Jon Davidson, director of Lambda Legal, which pursues litigation on LGBT issues nationwide. That's up from six before the U.S. Supreme Court last summer struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The District of Columbia also allows same-sex marriage.
"The momentum we are seeing is unprecedented in any human rights struggle," Davidson said. "To have this fast a change in the law and in public opinion, is quite remarkable."
State Sen. Jim Dabakis, chairman of the Utah Democratic Party, was one of the first to get married in Salt Lake City with his longtime partner, Stephen Justesen.
"Do you, Jim, take Steven, to be your lawfully wedded spouse?" the mayor asked shortly before a celebration erupted.
Wedding ceremonies were being performed once every few minutes in the lobby of the clerk's office, each one punctuated by hoots and hollers from the large crowd.
Brian Morris let out a loud yelp after getting married to his partner, who dissolved into tears.
"I'm so exicted," Morris yelled. "I love you."
But at the Utah County clerk's office in Provo, same sex-couples were denied marriage licenses.
Patsy Carter, 42, and her partner of eight years, 39-year-old Raylynn Marvel, said they went to the office immediately after hearing about the ruling but the clerk said they office was still reviewing the ruling and consulting with the county attorney.
Carter said the ruling was still a positive step and she believes Utah County, considered one of Utah's most conservative, will eventually have to start granting licenses.
"If my marriage licenses could say, 'Provo, Utah,' that's probably the most epic contradiction ever," she said.
Utah's lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples, including one that was legally married in Iowa and just wants that license recognized in Utah.
One of the couples that brought the case, Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen, were roasting eggplants for a farmers market Saturday when their lawyer, Peggy Tomsic, called them with the news.
"We had a positive feeling after the hearing on Dec. 4, but it's still a surprise to hear it," Sbeity said. "We're excited and happy and hopeful to see what happens what next."
During the nearly four-hour hearing on the case, attorneys for the state argued that Utah's law promotes the state's interest in "responsible procreation" and the "optimal mode of child-rearing." They also asserted it's not the courts' role to determine how a state defines marriage, and that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling doesn't give same-sex couples the universal right to marry.
One of the other couples that brought the lawsuit, Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge, said they were elated.
"I'm just kind of in shock. My brother called and said, 'When are you getting married?" said Wood, 58, an English professor Utah Valley University.
Image via lgbtqnation.com

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