Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Developments In Utah Same-Sex Marriage Litigation

Numerous amicus briefs have been filed in the 10th Circuit in Kitchen v. Herbert, the appeal of the Utah federal district court's decision striking down the ban on same-sex marriage in Utah. Of particular interest is the amicus brief (full text) filed yesterday by major religious organizations urging reversal of the district court. The brief, filed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; National Association of Evangelicals; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod argues:
Undermining the husband-wife marital institution by redefining it to include same-sex couples will, in the long term, harm vital child-welfare interests that only the husband-wife definition can secure. The result will be more mothers and fathers concluding that the highest end of marriage is not the welfare of their children but the advancement of their own life choices. We know, from personal experience over numerous decades of ministering to families and children, that more focus on satisfying adult needs will not benefit vulnerable children.
The Salt Lake Tribune has a summary of the over 20 briefs filed in support of Utah's position, and reports at more length on the brief filed by religious organizations.

Meanwhile, last month the ACLU filed a lawsuit (press release) seeking to require Utah to recognize as valid the more than 1000 same-sex marriages performed in the state after the district court struck down the ban and before the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the decision.  The complaint (full text) in Evans v. State of Utah, (UT 3d Dist. Ct., filed 1/21/2014), argues that by not fully recognizing the marriages, the state has deprived couples of liberty and property interests protected by the due process clause of the Utah constitution and by 42 USC Sec. 1983:
By placing recognition of their marriages “on hold,” the State of Utah has placed the legal status of all same-sex married couples, including Plaintiffs and their families and children, in legal limbo and created uncertainty as to their rights and status in virtually all areas of their lives.
The ACLU provides links to other documents and items relating to the case.