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Utah's Same-Sex Marriage Case Reaches U.S. Supreme Court

PHOTO: The fate of Utah's legally contested ban on same-sex marriage is now in the hands of the nation's highest court. Photo courtesy of the FBI.
PHOTO: The fate of Utah's legally contested ban on same-sex marriage is now in the hands of the nation's highest court. Photo courtesy of the FBI.
August 7, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – The legal battle over Utah's ban on same-sex marriage has entered the jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This week the state filed its appeal of a lower court ruling, which overturned Utah's ban on same-sex marriage.

John Mejia, legal director with the ACLU of Utah, says a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage would essentially legalize it nationwide.

"If the Supreme Court says that the federal Constitution equal protection means that states may not bar marriage between same-sex couples, then that will bind all 50 states and all jurisdictions in the United States because the federal constitution trumps state law," he explains.

Late last year, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby overturned Amendment 3, 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 the state of Utah continues its efforts to overturn Judge Shelby's ruling.

Marina Gomberg and her wife, Elenor, are among the same-sex couples that married in Utah while it was legal, and then sued the state over its refusal to recognize the unions.

Gomberg says she and Elenor are holding off on their dream of starting a family because until their marriage is legally recognized, only one parent would have a legal right over the child as its mother.

"My wife Elenor and I have wanted to start a family for a really long time and feel really uncomfortable doing that knowing that only one of us would have a legal relationship with the child," Gomberg says.

About 1,300 same-sex couples in Utah were married prior to the U.S. Supreme Court's temporary injunction that stopped the weddings.

The court could decide to hear the case after its next session starts this fall.

Or, it could reject the case, which would uphold the lower court rulings, which support overturning the same-sex marriage ban.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT