Federal Court Strikes Down Utah’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

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The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban on Wednesday, ruling 2-1 that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

The court immediately stayed its ruling pending appeal back to the 10th Circuit or straight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“[W]e hold that under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution, those who wish to marry a person of the same sex are entitled to exercise the same fundamental right as is recognized for persons who wish to marry a person of the opposite sex,” the court wrote, “and that Amendment 3 and similar statutory enactments do not withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

The court has jurisdiction over six states, including Colorado and Oklahoma, both of which have bans on same-sex marriage that are being challenged in court. The federal appellate court has already heard arguments in the Oklahoma case and a ruling is expected soon.

A constitutional amendment in Colorado prohibits same-sex marriage, but the state legislature passed a bill last year recognizing same-sex civil unions, which confer almost all the same rights and responsibilities as marriage. Several couples filed suit earlier this year challenging the amendment.

Judge Carlos Lucero, writing the majority opinion, struck down several of Utah’s arguments in favor of the ban, including that same-sex marriage would erode marriages between men and women, and that they would be bad for children.

“[I]t is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of the love and commitment between same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples,” he wrote.

“We hold that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws,” he concluded. “A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

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