Yesterday, New Mexico became the 17th US state to legalize same-sex marriage when the state supreme court ruled it was unconstitutional to deny a marriage licence to gay and lesbian couples. Today, Utah became the 18th US state to legalize marriage equality when a federal judge ruled the state ban violated gay and lesbian couples' 14th amendment right to due process and equal protection.
The barriers continue to fall. I wonder how many state bans on same-sex marriage, either by constitutional amendment or state law, are going to survive legal challenges based on the 14th amendment.
It must be making a lot of Bible-thumpers frothingly angry. Not that I want people to be angry, I just don't care if this issue makes them upset. Apparently, they have to get over it because that is how it is going. To be fair, though, I do secretly like it that the Constitution is being interpreted and upheld in this way. This is the U.S.A. I know and love.
The walls of american theocracy are starting to crumble. Our Constitution, a most precious document, continues to force those who have coddled discrimination to realize that their slogan "America, love it or leave it." is no longer relevant. Eventually American theists will be forced to re-examine their belief system and catch up with the rest of us living in the 21st century. Change is a good thing even if it does involve a little kicking and screaming along the way.
I'm thrilled to report that the religious nutjobs in Utah are going to appeal. They're opening the door for the US Supreme Court to throw out constitutional bans on same-sex marriage in all 50 states, right on the heels of a stunning civil rights victory in the DOMA ruling six months ago in June 2013.
The self-righteous crackpots are going to make marriage equality the law of the land faster than any supporter ever could. They even forgot to ask for a motion to stay the ruling during the appeal, so Utah is now a gay and lesbian wedding mecca!
"A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement that it supports "traditional marriage," while teaching that everyone should be treated with respect. "This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process," Eric Hawkins said. "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 president of the National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, called the ruling "a travesty of justice." In a statement, he added, "This trend of vetoing the voters from the bench must be stopped."
That view was not shared by Clifford Rosky, chairman of the board of Equality Utah. "We think it is a thoughtful and careful ruling that is based on the Supreme Court decision last summer and we expect that it will be upheld ultimately by the United States Supreme Court," he said.
Though the state has already filed a notice of appeal, the state's lawyers did not file a motion for a stay in district court, which allowed the marriages to begin at once. "Why they didn't ask the district court for a stay is a mystery, to say the least," Rosky said.
Same-sex marriage is banned by constitutional amendment or state law in: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
But it is legal in 17 other U.S states and the District of Columbia: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Civil unions, which are legal in Colorado, grant couples most of the rights of state civil marriages, but provide none of the federal benefits of marriage, such as Social Security benefits. These rights include spousal support, medical decision-making privileges, access to a partner's insurance, and hospital visitation rights.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court has signaled that it is reluctant to issue a national opinion on the matter, lower courts and states have not been so reluctant, said Carl Tobias, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Richmond. "I'm just struck by how quickly this is all moving," he said. "It just seems like it's picking up steam in terms of challenges."
good! The way I see it, religious types can decide what happens in their church, but if gay people want to get married outside their church, they shouldn't even dare to voice opinion publicly, let alone politically. religious fundamentalism has no place in the legal system.
(you can tell I have recently had a heated debate with a Christian, sorry, lol)
Utah's religious political establishment is completely freaking out, doing everything they can to stop marriage equality, filing multiple appeals, but they keep getting their brains beaten out. Meanwhile, gay and lesbian couples are marrying in droves, and legal experts say the marriage licences will likely remain valid no matter what happens on a subsequent appeal to a higher court. Ah! It's beautiful!
Judge Richard Shelby on Monday denied a request by the state that sought to halt gay marriage until the appeals process plays out. The same judge overturned Utah's ban on same-sex marriage Friday, ruling it is unconstitutional. Utah lawyers are expected to ask a higher court to put the process on hold.
"We're thrilled that this decision continues the process of decisions across the country that support the right of gay and lesbian couples to get married and have their love and families protected equally under the law," said Brian Silva, executive director of Marriage Equality. The New York City-based group promotes the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry.
The state of Utah is now expected to appeal the decision to the Tenth Circuit.
The county clerk in Salt Lake City immediately began issuing licenses Friday, and hundreds more gay couples were in line to be married on Monday.
The ruling drew attention given Utah's long-standing opposition to gay marriage and its position as headquarters for the Mormon church. Lawyers for the state are waging a legal battle on several fronts as they seek to stop the same-sex weddings. They were twice rejected by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Clerks in several counties were issuing the licenses to gay couples Monday morning, and people began lining up Sunday in Salt Lake County. Hundreds of couples were lined up at the clerk's office by the time doors opened.
"We're going to do it until the judge says stop," said Kerri Nakamura, a staff assistant for a county councilman who was helping people process licenses.
Shelby on Friday overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban, ruling that Utah's law violates gay and lesbian couples' rights under the 14th Amendment. The decision that has put Utah in the national spotlight because of its long-standing opposition to gay marriage.
On Sunday, a federal appeals court rejected the state's emergency request to stay the ruling, saying it couldn't rule on a stay since Shelby hasn't acted on the motion before him. The court quickly rejected a second request from Utah on Monday.
Following Shelby's surprising ruling Friday afternoon, gay and lesbian couples rushed to a county clerk's office in Salt Lake City to get marriage licenses. More than 100 couples wed as others cheered them on in what became an impromptu celebration an office building about three miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church.
About 25 couples lined up outside the clerk's office in Davis County on Monday morning, the Standard-Examiner reported. The first couple showed up around 6 a.m. and married immediately after receiving their license.
For now, a state considered as one of the most conservative in the nation has joined the likes of California and New York to become the 18th state where same-sex couples can legally wed. Legal experts say that even if a judge puts a halt to the weddings, the licenses that have already been issued will likely still be valid.
Utah is home to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was one of the leading forces behind California's short-lived ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, which voters approved in 2008. The church said Friday that it stands by its support for "traditional marriage" and that it hopes a higher court validates its belief that marriage is between a man and woman.
In Shelby's 53-page ruling, he said 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.
The decision drew a swift and angry reaction Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who said he was disappointed in an "activist federal judge attempting to override the will of the people of Utah." The state quickly took steps to appeal the ruling and halt the process, setting up Monday's hearing before Shelby.