SALT LAKE CITY — A lawmaker in Utah has proposed a constitutional amendment that would protect churches in the state from being forced to perform same-sex ‘weddings.’
Republican Representative Jacob Anderegg told reporters this past week that he constructed the amendment in light of increasing court rulings that interpret the equal protection clause of 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as trumping the 10th Amendment, which protects states’ rights.
“Like [hockey star] Wayne Gretzky said, ‘A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be,’ ” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I think this is where the law is going and want to put some extra protection in place.”
“No religious organization, association, or society, and no individual acting in a role connected with a religious organization, association, or society, may be required or compelled to solemnize, officiate in, or recognize a marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of their right of conscience or their free exercise of religion,” the proposed amendment states.
Anderegg says that he began working on amendment the day before same-sex “marriage” was legalized in the state, and a few days following a court ruling that legalized polygamist cohabitation.
As previously reported, a federal judge appointed by Barack Obama declared Utah’s ban on same-sex “marriage” unconstitutional last month, 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.
The attorney general’s office then filed an appeal with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals following Shelby’s ruling, but was denied. Therefore, it took its motion to the U.S. Supreme Court, requesting an emergency stay.
“This case involves not just a refusal by the federal government to accommodate a state’s definition of marriage, but an outright abrogation of such a definition — by a single federal court wielding a federal injunction and acting under the banner of the federal Constitution,” the legal brief filed with the court outlined.
Same-sex “marriage” advocates replied to the challenge on Friday, asserting that the state did not wish to engage in “enforcing unconstitutional laws or relegating same-sex couples and their families to a perpetual state of financial, legal, and social vulnerability.”
However, Utah’s new Attorney General, Sean Reyes, who was sworn in on Monday, told reporters that he is willing to fight to protect Utah’s current laws enshrining marriage as being between a man and a woman.
“We’re willing to spend whatever it takes to protect the laws and the will of the people,” he stated. “Our commitment to the people is if we don’t have [expertise] internally, we’ll find the best to represent the state.”