Utah to appeal same-sex marriage case to the Supreme Court

Photo: U.S. Supreme Court. Credit: Todd Franson/Metro Weekly.

Photo: U.S. Supreme Court. Credit: Todd Franson/Metro Weekly.

Utah officials will appeal a federal court decision declaring the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The office of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced the decision Wednesday, opting to take the state’s appeal to the Supreme Court, rather than the full 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in order to “obtain clarity and resolution from the highest court.”

“Attorney General Reyes has a sworn duty to defend the laws of our state. Utah’s Constitutional Amendment 3 is presumed to be constitutional unless the highest court deems otherwise,” a spokesperson for the attorney general said in a statement.

Last month, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold a lower court’s ruling that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. On December 20 U.S District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby found Utah’s same-sex marriage ban in violation of the U.S. Constitution, leading more than 1,000 same-sex couples to marry before the U.S. Supreme Court interjected and halted marriages pending appeal. The appeals court heard oral arguments in the case on April 10.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), who is defending the ban, said last month that he believes final resolution must come from the Supreme Court.

“I think all people, on all sides of this issue, should want it to get decided by the Supreme Court as soon as possible and bring some certainty — bring some finality to this, which is what I think all people, on all sides of the issue, should want. And certainly what I want,” Herbert told reporters.

The Supreme Court has no obligation to hear the case, and should they decline to do so the 10th Circuit’s ruling invalidating Utah’s same-sex marriage ban will stand. However, the case marks the first same-sex marriage case to be appealed to the Supreme Court since last year’s sweeping decision declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Since that decision, marriage equality has not lost a single day in court and federal courts have struck down same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Oregon, Wisconsin and Indiana. 

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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