Tenth Circuit Rules in Favor of the Freedom to Marry in Utah
(Denver, CO, June 25, 2014)—In a landmark decision today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit ruled that Utah’s ban on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.
Today’s decision in Kitchen v. Herbert is the first federal appellate court ruling in a freedom to marry case since the United States Supreme Court ruled in June 2013 that the federal government must recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. The case was brought by Utah couples Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity, Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge, and Karen Archer and Kate Call.
On December 20, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s laws denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. More than 1,000 same-sex couples married in Utah in the days following the ruling. Utah appealed the ruling to the Tenth Circuit, which heard oral argument in the case on April 10, 2014.
The couples are represented by the Salt Lake City law firm of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C. and by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). Peggy Tomsic of Magleby & Greenwood presented oral argument on behalf of the plaintiff couples.
Said Tomsic: “Today’s decision by the Tenth Circuit affirms the fundamental principles of equality and fairness and the common humanity of gay and lesbian people. As the Court recognized, these families are part of Utah’s community, and equal protection requires that they be given the same legal protections and respect as other families in this state. The Court’s ruling is a victory not only for the courageous couples who brought this case, but for our entire state and every state within the Tenth Circuit.”
Added Kitchen: “We are overjoyed by the court’s decision, which means so much to us, our family, and everyone who believes in justice and fairness. Since the lawsuit was filed last year, we have received so much support from so many people in our state, and we are now looking forward to the day when we will finally be married.”
NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell stated: “Today’s ruling marks the first time a federal court of appeals has ruled that excluding same-sex couples from the freedom to marry is unconstitutional. The Court makes clear that the promise of equality embedded in our revered U.S. Constitution includes the lives and loves of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. That recognition marks an indelible milestone in our nation’s journey to full inclusion—and one that will undoubtedly influence other courts in the months to come.”