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State of Utah
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Current Status


HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
  • Because it is the center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon) religion, Utah has a unique history regarding marriage. Polygamy was practiced by certain Mormon members, leaders and communities beginning in 1835. From 1852 until 1890, LDS Church leaders preached and encouraged members, especially those in leadership positions, to marry additional wives. Fundamentalist groups who believe that the church discontinued polygamy only because of pressure from the federal government continued the practice. As they were discovered by the LDS Church, they were excommunicated. Some of these polygamists have appointed leaders and continue to live in groups, including those in Hilldale, Utah and Colorado City (formerly Short Creek), Arizona. Others still practice polygamy but have no affiliation with an organized group.
  • One of the prime arguments used by those opposed to marriage equality is that it will lead to polygamy.
  • In August 2014, without realizing the cards would not be welcomed, Hallmark placed greeting cards celebrating same-sex marriages in the Brigham Young University bookstore. The cards were removed by the bookstore as soon as they were discovered. BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins referenced the BYU honor code. It states that while being attracted to people of the same gender doesn't violate the honor code, acting on those feelings is a violation. BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which stands behind its belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.

Legislation - Pending

None.

 

 

Legislation - Enacted

SB 297 - PROTECTIONS FOR RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION AND BELIEFS ABOUT MARRIAGE, FAMILY, OR SEXUALITY

Date Introduced: 6 March 2015
Author/Sponsor: Sen. J. Stuart Adams
Date Signed Into Law: 20 March 2015

Description:

SB 296  - Antidiscrimination and Religious Freedom Amendments

Date Introduced: 4 March 2015
Author/Sponsor: Senators Stephen H. Urquhart and J. Stuart Adams, Rep. Brad L. Dee
Date Signed into Law: 12 March 2015

Description:

Ut_SB296_signed.png

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawsuits - Pending

Roe v. Evans

Case #: 2:15-CV-00253-db
Date Filed:
Court Level: Federal District Court
Date of Appeal:

Description:

  • A lawsuit was filed to require Utah State Office of Vital Records and Statistics to recognize a married same-sex couple as legal parents of their child.
  • 27 April 2015, the defendants filed their Opposition to Preliminary Injunction.
  • 30 April 2015, the plaintiffs filed their Reply in Support of Preliminary Injunction. A hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction is set for 15 July 2015 at 01:00 PM MT before Judge Dee Benson
Jonell Evans, et al. v. State of Utah

Case #: 2:14-cv-00055
Court Level: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
Date Filed: 21 January 2014
Date of Appeal:

Description:

  • 21 January 2014, the ACLU sued UT in state court (a) for ignoring the marriages of 2,600 people who were legally married as same-gender couples in UT, and (b) for harming their children.
  • 4 February 2014, the ACLU of Utah filed a preliminary injunction motion with the federal court seeking an order that the State must immediately recognize marriages of all same-sex couples married in Utah and to continue to recognize them while the litigation in Evans v. Utah continues.
  • 6 February 2014, the plaintiffs asked for an expedited hearing.
  • 28 February 2014, UT argued that over 1,000 same-gender civil marriages performed for UT couples between 20 December 2013 and 6 January 2014 may get voided by the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in summer 2014, but the ACLU argued that those marriages would always remain fully legal no matter what the Appeals Court decides.
  • 19 May 2014, the district court denied the motion for certification and granted the motion for a preliminary injunction requiring state recognition of the marriages. The district court temporarily stayed its order to allow the state to seek an emergency stay of his injunction pending appeal to the Tenth Circuit.
  • 5 June 2014, the state appealed and moved to extend the stay of the district court’s preliminary injunction, the Tenth Circuit extended the temporary stay pending resolution of the stay motion.
  • 11 July 2014, in a 2-1 split, the stay pending appeal was denied, but the temporary stay remains in effect until 21 July 2014 at 8am.
  • 16 July 2014, Utah filed an emergency application to Justice Sotomayer for a stay of the federal injunction that requires the state to recognize 1300+ marriages performed in the state during Dec 2013 - Jan 2014.
  • Sotomayer referred this to the full Supreme Court and on 18 July 2014 the Court issued an order granting the state a stay of the July 11 trial court order during the appeal to the 10th Circuit. In other words, beginning July 21, Utah does not have to recognize the same-sex marriages that already took place. (See first bullet.)
  • 19 August 2014, the plaintiffs filed their opposition to the state's request for an additional 30 days to prepare their brief. 

Lawsuits - Resolved

Kitchen, et al. v. Utah Governor Gary Herbert, et al.

Case #: 14-124 (SCOTUS)14-4060 (10th Circuit)
Court Level: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
Date Filed: 25 March 2013
Date of Appeal: December 2013

Description:

  • 25 March 2013, 3 couples filed a federal lawsuit challenging UT’s constitutional amendment banning same-gender civil marriage, passed 66%-to-33% in 2004. The plaintiffs are one gay couple, one lesbian couple, and a second lesbian couple whose IA marriage is ignored by UT.
  • 11 October 2013, UT Governor Herbert requested a summary judgment favoring the state, and argued that: (1) marriage is not a right; (2) states can deny marriage to certain citizens; (3) “responsible procreation” is a reason to exclude same-gender couples, and (4) same-gender parents raising children is harmful.
  • Plaintiffs also requested a summary judgment in their favor, and argued that UT’s constitutional ban restricts rights and liberties.
  • The court heard both motions for summary judgment on 4 December 2013.
  • 20 December 2013, the court declared the ban an irrational, unconstitutional denial of a fundamental right under the U.S. Constitution, and allowed marriages to begin the same day.
  • 22 December 2013, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied UT’s request to stay the district court ruling while the district court decides whether to suspend its own ruling during the time that the case is on appeal.
  • 23 December 2013, UT made the request again, and the Court of Appeals denied it again.
  • 23 December, UT made a third request for a stay, and Federal District Judge Robert Shelby denied it.
  • 24 December, UT made a fourth request for a stay, and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied it, mainly because: (a) the appeal appears likely to fail; (b) the lack of a stay is not likely to cause irreparable harm to the state; (c) a stay is likely to harm the plaintiff couples who now can marry legally, and (d) lack of a stay is not likely to harm the public interest.
  • UT then announced that it will make a fifth request to SCOTUS, where Justice Sonia Sotomayor will grant the stay, or deny the stay, or ask the full Court to decide.
  • 30 December 2013, the Appeals Court set the expedited schedule: state’s appeal brief by 27 January 2014, couples’ response brief by 18 February, state’s reply brief by 25 February, oral arguments in March 2014
  • 31 December 2013, UT asked the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to stay the original ruling and suspend same-gender civil marriages while appeals go through the 10th Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • 6 January 2014, SCOTUS stayed the district court ruling until the Appeals Court ruling is issued.
  • 8 January 2014, the UT Attorney General said that for the 2,720 people who married a same-gender spouse from 20 December 2013 through 6 January 2014, those marriages are doubtful, and their validity will be determined by appeals to the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2014 and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. On 9 January, the UT Attorney General confirmed that a marriage certificate can be completed for each marriage that was performed prior to the decision to issue a stay. On 9 January 2014, the Human Rights Campaign asked the U.S. government to recognize all same-gender couples who were legally married in UT between 20 December 2013 and 6 January 2014. On 10 January 2014, the U.S. government confirmed that it recognizes all same-gender civil marriages performed in UT from 20 December 2013 through 6 January 2014.
  • On 28 January 2014, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decided to review both the UT and OK cases (Bishop v. Smith) (a) on a fast-track schedule, and (b) by the same panel of judges. The UT and OK appeals will be briefed separately and argued separately.
  • 10 April 2014, oral argument was heard. Oral Argument Audio Recording for 13-4178, Kitchen v. Herbert
  • 25 June 2014 a 3-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's ruling that Utah's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional and violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • The 10th Circuit stayed its ruling pending possible review by SCOTUS, which Utah has stated they intend to seek. UT further stated that they will not seek rehearing en banc. Their cert. petition to SCOTUS is due by 23 September 2014.
  • 5 August 2014, the state of UT filed their Petition for Writ of Certiorari (request for review of case - appeal) with SCOTUS.
  • 28 August 2014, the plaintiffs filed their Response Brief asking SCOTUS to take the case.  
  • 10 September 2014, the state filed their reply in support of their petition for cert.
  • 6 October 2014, SCOTUS declined to take any of the 7 marriage equality cases from 5 states on appeal, including this one. See page 39 of the order. The 10th Circuit's June 25th ruling stands.
  • 6 October 2014, 10th Circuit lifts stay - marriage equality legal in Utah!
  • 25 December 2014, Couples Who Challenged Utah's Gay Marriage Ban Named Utahns Of The Year - By Carlos Santoscoy, ON TOP Magazine

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

None.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

None.

Polls

  • 20 October 2014, results of a UtahPolicy.com poll conducted Oct. 14-16 by Dan Jones and Associates showed 61% of Utahns opposed same-sex marriage, which became legal in October due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear appeals from several states whose same-sex marriage bans were struck down in lower courts, including Utah (see Kitchen under LAWSUITS-RESOLVED above).That is down slightly from the 63% who said they opposed same-sex marriage in a similar poll in August 2014. Meanwhile, 37% of 405 respondents queried after marriage equality was legalized Oct. 6 said they were supportive, up from 29% in August. News Source
  • A Dan Jones & Associates/Cicero Group poll from on 14-16 January 2014 found that 57% of Utah residents oppose same-sex marriage, 36% support it, while 6% were undecided. The question was "Do you support same-sex marriage?", and the margin of error was ± 3.5%. News Source
  • A Salt Lake Tribune poll taken by SurveyUSA 10-13 January 2014 found that Utah residents were evenly split on whether same-sex couples in Utah should be allowed to get state-issued marriage licenses — 48% for and 48% against, while 4% were uncertain. The question was "Should same-sex couples in Utah be allowed to get state-issued marriage licenses?", and the margin of error was ± 4.1%. Some 72% (margin of error ± 3.7%) said same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions that provide the same legal rights as marriage. Poll Details