(Denver, CO, April 10, 2014)—Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit heard oral argument in the Utah freedom to marry case, Kitchen v. Herbert, in Denver. This was the first federal appellate court hearing 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 of law. More than 1,000 same-sex couples married in Utah in the days following the ruling. Utah appealed the ruling to the Tenth Circuit.
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 today.
Said Tomsic: “We are grateful that the Tenth Circuit has moved quickly in handling this appeal, which affects thousands of families in Utah who seek equal dignity and full legal recognition of their families. We are confident that the judges will give this important case the consideration it deserves, and we look forward to the court’s decision.“
Added Kitchen: “Moudi and I are moved by the seriousness with which the courts are taking our request that we be treated fairly as a family. We have received so much support from our family, friends, and neighbors in Utah, and we are hopeful that our state officials will soon offer us the same respect.”
NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell stated: “As a Utah native, today was a proud moment as Utah residents poignantly brought their families’ stories to a federal appeals court and made a basic request for equal treatment under our nation’s Constitution. We are optimistic the court will agree that excluding same sex couples from the right to marry causes harm and allowing couples to marry strengthens families and hurts no one.”