Utah

Utah

Kitchen v. Herbert

What's Happening:

On April 10, a three-judge panel at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in this case seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Utah. A federal judge ruled in December 2013 that laws denying marriage to same-sex couples are unconstitutional, and the state of Utah has since filed an appeal. The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Magleby & Greenwood.

Case History:

On March 23, 2013, private lawyers filed a federal lawsuit in the 10th Circuit on behalf of three same-sex couples in Utah challenging laws in Utah that restrict the freedom to marry to different-sex couples. In January 2014, the National Center for Lesbian Rights signed onto the case as co-counsel. 

The plaintiffs in the case are Kate Call & Karen Archer, who married in Iowa in 2011; Derek L. Kitchen & Moudi D. Sbeity; and Laurie Wood & Kody Partridge. The defendants include Utah Gov. Herbert and the state Attorney General.

"The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason." - Judge Robert J. Shelby

On December 20, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, striking down the ban on same-sex couples from marrying in Utah. Judge Shelby wrote, "Applying the law as it is required to do, the court holds that Utah’s prohibition on same- sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law. The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional."

The judge did not issue a stay in the ruling, so same-sex couples were able to marry immediately after the order came down. Over the next three weeks, the Attorney General and Governor of Utah sought to appeal the ruling, filing requests to Judge Shelby and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. All of the requests for a stay were denied until January 6, when the United States Supreme Court issued a temporary stay on the ruling as the state's appeal of the decision is considered. 

The state's appeal of the ruling is currently being fast-tracked, with all briefs in the case due to be filed by March 4, 2014. Oral arguments in the case, which will be heard by a 3-judge panel from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, have been scheduled for April 10.

Evans v. Utah

What's Happening:

On March 12, oral arguments will be heard in this case that seeks respect for the 1,300+ same-sex couples who received marriage licenses from the state of Utah between December 20, 2013 and January 6, 2014, when a federal judge's ruling in favor of the freedom to marry was in effect. The plaintiffs in the case are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Case History:

On January 21, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of four same-sex couples in Utah who legally married in the state following a federal judge's ruling in Kitchen v. Herbert (above) that struck down anti-marriage laws in the state. More than 1,300 same-sex couples married in those weeks, and this lawsuit seeks recognition for these licenses - which have already been extended respect, as they rightfully should, by the United States government. 

After the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the December 20 ruling, Governor Herbert and state officials in Utah ordered state agencies to place the Utah marriages "on hold," meaning that these couples would not be respected as married as the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case later this year. 

The plaintiffs include Matt and Tony, who are raising a son together; Sacia and JoNell, who have been together for 13 years; Donald and Fritz, together for more than 21 years; and Marina and Elenor, who would like to begin raising a family in their home state. Meet the plaintiffs HERE

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