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Federal Court Rules In Favor Of Marriage Equality In Utah

PHOTO: Same-sex marriage advocates in Utah say a federal court ruling supporting marriage equality is the biggest legal win in the history of the gay rights movement. Photo courtesy of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
PHOTO: Same-sex marriage advocates in Utah say a federal court ruling supporting marriage equality is the biggest legal win in the history of the gay rights movement. Photo courtesy of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
June 26, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY - A federal court ruling favoring same-sex marriage in Utah is being called the biggest legal victory in the history of the gay rights movement.

The U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Wednesday affirming same-sex couples have the right to marry. Clifford Rosky, board chairman at Equality Utah and a law professor at the University of Utah, says the ruling is significant because it represents the highest U.S. court to offer specific language supporting marriage equality.

"Gay Americans have the same rights as all Americans," says Rosky. "No federal appeals court has ever issued such a broad ruling in favor of same-sex couples."

Late last year, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby overturned Amendment Three, which had amended the Utah state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The U.S. Supreme Court then granted a temporary injunction stopping same-sex marriages while Utah continued its efforts to overturn Judge Shelby's ruling.

Rosky says this case, which he expects to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, has become more difficult for the state to win.

"The state never had a good chance," says Rosky. "Utah lost the most significant case in the history of the gay rights movement, so that's not a strong position for them."

Rosky adds it could take a year or more for the issue to wind its way through the court system. About 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah were married prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's temporary injunction that stopped the weddings.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT