Main | Thursday, December 05, 2013

UTAH: Marriage Ruling Due Next Month

A federal judge in Utah yesterday announced that he will rule by next month after having heard opening arguments in a marriage equality lawsuit brought by three gay couples.
About 100 people packed the courtroom in the city that is home to the Mormon Church, known for its efforts in helping California pass its anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby heard arguments from both sides as he weighed what will be a precedent-setting decision that he hopes to make by early next year. His ruling would be the first on a state same-sex marriage ban since the Supreme Court last summer struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which stipulated that marriage was between a man and woman.

Attorneys for the state asserted it is not the courts' role to determine how a state defines marriage, and that the Supreme Court ruling doesn't give same-sex couples the universal right to marry. They also reinforced the state's argument that Utah has a right to foster a culture of "responsible procreation," and the "optimal mode of child-rearing," which the state believes the law does. "There is nothing unusual about what Utah is doing here," said Stanford Purser of the Utah Attorney General's Office, objecting to the notion that the law is rooted in bigotry or hatred. "That's the nature of legislation: You draw lines and make designations."
At one point during the hearing, Judge Shelby demanded of the state's lawyer, "How is it by excluding same-sex couples from marrying you're increasing procreation?" The lawyer "declined to answer directly."

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