District court affirms ruling calling Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional

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The 10th District Court of Appeals has ruled Utah’s third amendment, which bans marriage between same-sex couples, unconstitutional. The June 25 ruling came with a stay, which temporarily pauses any implementation of the ruling.

“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. 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,” said Judge Carlos F. Lucero in his written opinion.

The ruling came down 2-1, with the dissenting vote from Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr. His ruling was based on the conclusion that the fourteenth amendment does not require Utah to extend marriage to or recognize marriage of same-sex couples.

“The Constitution is silent on the regulation of marriage; accordingly, that power is reserved to the States, albeit consistent with federal constitutional guarantees,” said Kelly, in his written opinion.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that the state will consider an en banc review from the 10th Circuit. The review would request a ruling from the entire 10th Circuit of 21 judges, rather than appealing to the United States Supreme Court. Appealing to the Supreme Court is still an option.

“I believe states have the right to determine their laws regarding marriage. I am grateful the Court issued a stay to allow time to analyze the decision and our options. But as I have always said, all Utahns deserve clarity and finality regarding same-sex marriage and that will only come from the Supreme Court,” said Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert in a released statement.

The decision affirms the previous ruling by Judge Robert J. Shelby that originally ruled the ban unconstitutional in December 2013.

This story will be updated as information is available.


Related stories:

Judge ends legal limbo for more than 1,000 same-sex couples in Utah

UVU staff feels effects of same-sex marriage legal limbo

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Judge halts same-sex marriages in Utah

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