The Freedom to Marry in Utah

Winning Marriage: October 6, 2014

Same-sex couples began marrying in Utah on October 6, 2014 after the United States Supreme Court denied review of a pro-marriage order from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Utah. The decision followed more than a year of marriage litigation in Utah, including over two weeks of legal weddings in December 2014 and January 2015.

History and the Path to Victory:

  • 1977: The Utah State legislature passes a state statute restricting marriage to different-sex couples.
  • March 1, 1995: The Utah Legislature passes additional state statutes to deny legal respect to marriages between same-sex couples performed in other states and reconfirm opposition to the freedom to marry. A similar statute is passed again in 2004.
  • November 2, 2004: Opponents of the freedom to marry in Utah push through Amendment 3, a constitutional amendment denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry and any other legal family status. The amendment cements clearly discriminatory language into the Utah Constitution.
  • 2004-2013: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in Utah take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families.
  • March 23, 2013: Same-sex couples and private counsel file Kitchen v. Herbert, a federal legal case seeking the freedom to marry in Utah. Read the initial complaint
  • December 20, 2013: U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby rules in favor of the freedom to marry in Kitchen, striking down Utah’s ban on same-sex couples from marrying. The judge does not place a stay on the order, and same-sex couples begin marrying immediately. More than 1,300 same-sex couples marry over the next three weeks while the state of Utah appealed. Read the ruling.
  • January 6, 2014: The United States Supreme Court grants the state of Utah’s request for an emergency stay in the ruling, placing the decision on hold and pausing marriages while the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals hears the case. The Supreme Court’s grant follows previous stay denials from Judge Shelby and from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • March 18, 2014: Across the Beehive State, same-sex couples and their supporters come together to form, Utah Unites for Marriage, the broad-based coalition and public education campaign dedicated to winning marriage for same-sex couples in Utah.
  • June 25, 2014: The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the freedom to marry in the Utah marriage case. Read the ruling. The case is appealed to the United States Supreme Court, with both sides agreeing that the Court should review the case.
  • September 26, 2014: Polling in Utah tracks plurality support for the freedom to marry for the first time, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters.
  • October 6, 2014: The United States Supreme Court denies review of the pro-marriage ruling from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (and two other appellate decisions), resolving the question of the freedom to marry in Utah and finally allowing same-sex couples to marry statewide.
  • June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry, ending marriage discrimination across the country.

Groups That Actively Worked on Marriage

  • Utah Unites for Marriage was the grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Utah.
  • The National Center for Lesbian Rights is one of the nation's leading LGBT legal organizations. NCLR served as co-counsel in Kitchen v. Herbert.
  • The ACLU of Utah is the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, committed to standing up for equality for all Utahns.
  • Restore Our Humanity is an organization that works to strengthen Utah communities and defend human rights. 
  • Freedom to Marry was the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.

Audio from the 10th Circuit Hearing on Utah's Marriage Ban