Three same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging Utah’s laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying and refusing to respect the legal marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states.
The lawsuit argued that Utah’s laws barring same-sex couples from marrying and prohibiting the state from respecting the marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states violated the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.
On December 20, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that Utah’s ban on marriage by same-sex couples was unconstitutional. The State of Utah appealed that decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
The couples, who lived in Salt Lake and Wasatch Counties, were Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity, Karen Archer and Kate Call, and Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge. They were represented by Peggy Tomsic of the Salt Lake City law firm of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C., Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders Legal Director Gary Buseck and Civil Rights Project Director Mary Bonauto, Neal Katyal of the law firm of Hogan Lovells, and NCLR.
On June 25, 2014, the Tenth Circuit ruled that Utah’s ban on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. The decision was the first federal appellate court ruling in a freedom to marry case after the United States Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013.
On August 5, 2014, the State of Utah asked the Supreme Court of the United States to review the Tenth Circuit’s decision. The Supreme Court on October 6, 2014 declined to review the Tenth Circuit Court decision striking down Utah’s marriage ban for same-sex couples, thereby permitting that decision to stand, as well as a similar decision from Oklahoma. As a result, same-sex couples were immediately able to marry in Utah and Oklahoma, and soon afterward were able to marry in every state in the Tenth Circuit.
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in NCLR’s Tennessee marriage case and cases from three other states affirming the freedom to marry in every state and U.S. territory.