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Same-Sex Marriage Again Legal in Utah After U.S. Supreme Court Action

PHOTO: Same-sex marriage is once again legal in Utah following the U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday to not hear cases attempting to preserve bans on marriage equality in several states. Photo credit: Library of Congress.
PHOTO: Same-sex marriage is once again legal in Utah following the U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday to not hear cases attempting to preserve bans on marriage equality in several states. Photo credit: Library of Congress.
October 7, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY - Monday's U.S. Supreme Court announcement that it will not hear marriage-equality cases from Utah and several other states marks a significant victory for same-sex couples wanting to tie the knot, according to right-to-marry advocates.

Clifford Rosky, board chairman at Equality Utah and a law professor at the University of Utah, says the Supreme Court is signalling it supports lower-court rulings determining bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

"It's the strongest possible signal the court could have given about the future of the freedom to marry in the United States," says Rosky. "So in a matter of a couple of days you'll have same-sex couples being permitted to marry, and their marriages being recognized in something like 30 out of 50 states. This is really the end of the story."

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 the state of Utah has exhausted its legal options to try and prevent marriage equality from becoming law.

"You only get three bites at the apple in federal court," he says. "So in this case they lost in the trial court. They appealed - in our case to the Tenth Circuit, lost in the Tenth Circuit, and then they appealed to the United States Supreme Court and they lost."

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he's "surprised" by the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case, but encouraged all Utahns, regardless of their personal beliefs on this issue, to treat each other with respect.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT