(Salt Lake City, UT, March 4, 2014)—More than two dozen friend-of-the-court briefs are expected to be filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by the end of the day today, urging the court to uphold a lower court’s December 2013 decision finding that Utah’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples violates the United States Constitution. The briefs will be filed on behalf of a wide-ranging group of child welfare organizations, businesses, family law and constitutional scholars, service persons, religious leaders and denominations, Republican officials, and many of the nation’s leading civil rights groups.
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 the Tenth Circuit on February 3, 2014. The plaintiff couples in the case filed their response on February 25, arguing that Utah’s marriage ban violates multiple guarantees of the U.S. Constitution and cannot be justified based on Utah’s claimed interest in giving heterosexual couples “privileged and special status” because they are able to procreate biologically.
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.
Said Clifford Rosky, Board President of Equality Utah, one of the organizations filing a brief today in support of the freedom to marry for Utah couples: “Utah’s marriage ban causes serious harms to thousands of same-sex couples and their children, while helping no one. These families are an integral part of this state, and they deserve the same basic protections and support as other families. Our friend-of-the court brief describes the many ways that our members are harmed by the current law and asks the court to uphold Judge Shelby’s decision that same-sex couples must be given the same legal protections as others.”
Added attorney Peggy Tomsic of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C., who along with NCLR represents the plaintiffs in the case: “We are delighted by this outpouring of support for the freedom to marry for Utah’s same-sex couples. This strong show of support from family and child welfare organizations and the business, religious, academic, and scientific communities reflects the broader trend, in Utah and across the country, of increasing support for fairness and legal protection for same-sex couples and their children. As more people have gotten to know the same-sex couples who are their neighbors, co-workers, and friends, they have come to understand that preventing same-sex couples from marrying serves only to harm those couples and their children.”