SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge appointed by Barack Obama has declared Utah’s ban on same-sex ‘marriage’ unconstitutional, asserting that it violates the right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
“The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason,” U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby wrote. “Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.”
The state had argued that the law was necessary to protect interests in procreation and child-rearing, but Shelby contended that the state failed to show how homosexual “marriage” would harm heterosexuals.
“In the absence of such evidence, the State’s unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the State’s refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens,” he stated.
Utah’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage” was passed in 2004 during the November election with 66 percent of the vote.
“Marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman,” the amendment declared. “No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.”
Governor Gary Herbert said that he would appeal Shelby’s ruling, issuing a statement on Friday that he found it disturbing that a judge could so easily override the will of the people.
“I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah,” he wrote. “I am working with my legal counsel and the acting attorney general to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.”
Ryan Buckman, spokesperson for the Utah Attorney General’s Office, told the Salt Lake Tribune that a motion to stay the ruling would be filed “as quickly as we can get it taken care of.” He also advised that an appeal would also be filed in the case.
However, according to reports, several hundred homosexuals flocked to the Salt Lake County clerk’s office following the decision on Friday to obtain “marriage” licenses. A local Baptist pastor was also present to officiate ceremonies on the spot.
Utah now becomes the 18th state to legalize same-sex “marriage,” with other lawsuits still in the works, including in Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
As previously reported, a similar ruling was handed down in New Mexico on Thursday as the state Supreme Court unanimously declared that it was unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to those in same-sex relationships.
“We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law,” it stated.
But Governor Susanna Martinez contended that the matter should have been decided by voters, rather than in the courts.
“My personal views on this issue are well-known, and I’m confident that most New Mexicans believe, like I do, that it should have been settled by a vote of the people,” she said.