Courts & Crime

Utah petitions Supreme Court to retain same-sex marriage ban

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday in a bid to preserve the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Reyes bluntly spelled out the stakes.

"It comes down to this,” the petition states. “Thousands of couples are being unconstitutionally denied the right to marry, or millions of voters are being disenfranchised of their vote to define marriage. Either way, the court’s review is necessary, and this case is the right vehicle to do so.”

Calling it, without exaggeration, an “immensely important question,” Utah’s petition seeks review of a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that struck down the state’s marriage restrictions.

“The issue has been percolating for 40 years,” the petition notes. “Dozens of cases are challenging state marriage laws, and erratic use of stays has created legal chaos.”

In its 2-1 decision in June, the 10th Circuit concluded Utah’s same-sex marriage ban violated constitutional guarantees of equal protection. An amendment to the state’s constitution adopted by 66 percent of voters in 2004 declares that “marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman” and that “no other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.”

“The protection and exercise of fundamental rights are not matters for opinion polls or the ballot box,” Judge Carlos F. Lucero wrote.

Last month, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals likewise struck down a state’s same-sex marriage ban, in Virginia.