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Family & Relationships

Utah Same-Sex Couples Urge Federal Appeals Court to Uphold Decision Striking Down State’s Ban on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

(Salt Lake City, UT, February 26, 2014)—Late Tuesday, attorneys for three couples challenging Utah’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples filed a brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, urging the court to uphold a lower court’s December 2013 decision finding the ban unconstitutional.

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 of law. That decision is now on appeal before the Tenth Circuit.  The State of Utah filed its opening brief in that court on February 3, 2013, arguing that Utah’s marriage ban was justified based on Utah’s interest in giving heterosexual couples “privileged and special status” because they are able to procreate biologically.

In the brief filed with the Tenth Circuit last night, the three Utah couples argued that the Constitution requires Utah to treat all families fairly and to ensure that all children, including those being raised by same-sex parents, are equally protected.

The case, Kitchen v. Herbert, was brought by Utah couples Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity; Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge; and Karen Archer and Kate Call. The couples are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and the law firm of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C.

“The couples bringing this case have built their lives and homes in Utah,” said Peggy Tomsic of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C., who represents the couples. “They have contributed to their communities in many ways, from starting a successful small business, to teaching generations of students, to founding charities. The law should not treat them differently simply because they are same-sex couples. Utah’s marriage ban inflicts serious harms on same-sex couples and their children without helping anyone. Across the country, people are awakening to the common humanity of gay and lesbian people and recognizing that they have the same lasting family bonds as others. The law is now catching up with that awakening, as courts across the country are acknowledging that laws such as Utah’s marriage ban cannot be reconciled with the constitutional requirement of equal protection of the laws.”

Added NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter: “Courts are recognizing there is no reasonable justification for laws that treat same-sex couples differently and cause so much harm to their families. Just in the past few months, in addition to the decision striking down Utah’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, courts in Oklahoma, Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio have held that state marriage bans are unconstitutional. This is a true turning point, and one that shows the impact of the personal stories that same-sex couples have shared with their neighbors, families, and friends. As people have come to know these families, they have seen firsthand the unfairness of laws that deny protection to loving, stable relationships and stigmatize children being raised by same-sex parents. We are within sight of the day when same-sex couples across the country have the same freedom to marry and to have their marriages respected as others.”

Read the brief and learn more about the case.

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