Marriage Equality USA

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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


  • 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