U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby turned Mormon-dominated Utah on its head last Friday when he ruled that the Beehive State’s prohibition on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional because it “perpetuates inequality”.
Judge Shelby wrote, “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. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.”
Judge Shelby’s 53-page ruling pointed out that the law passed by Utah voters in 2004 restricting legal marriage to a woman and a man, violated same-sex couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
Shelby’s ruling means that the state of Utah can no longer prevent same-sex couples from marrying with all the benefits, obligations, and responsibilities that come with any legal marriage.
How did the Mormon Church react to Judge Shelby’s ruling?
Since this is the church that spent $22 million in 2008 to support Proposition 8, a Constitutional Amendment passed by voters in California (ruled unconstitutional by a Federal Court in 2010) to prevent same-sex couples from marrying, it was no surprise that the Mormon Church issued a statement within hours of Judge Shelby’s ruling to say that it “has been consistent in its support of traditional marriage while teaching that all people should be treated with respect.
“We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.”
Hmmm . . . one wonders . . . is it really possible to advocate that all people should be treated with respect while not respecting the right of all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, to be legally married?
Utah’s Republican Governor Gary Herbert condemned Judge Shelby for being an ‘activist’ and said that he would try to figure out “the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.”
Defend traditional marriage?
What is Governor Herbert talking about?
He’s laying down a line we’ve heard for years.
It goes like this: if we ‘allow’ same-sex couples to marry, unmarried heterosexual couples will never marry and currently married heterosexual couples will no longer stay married.
The facts, however, are these: There isn’t a whit of evidence to indicate that the numbers of heterosexual couples who get married or stay married have been impacted in any way in any state that ‘allows’ same-sex marriage.
Perhaps the truth about same-sex marriage was best told by openly gay State Senator Karen Peterson who, during final arguments for legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Delaware, said, “If my happiness somehow demeans or diminishes your marriage, you need to work on your marriage.”
That about says it all.
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