Same-Sex Marriage Legally Recognized in Utah


Chris Ayers

(Photo by Chris Ayers)

(Photo by Chris Ayers)
(Photo by Chris Ayers)

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Utah’s appeal Oct. 6, making same-sex marriage now legal in the state.
The Court announced yesterday that it would not hear the appeals of five states, including Utah. Because the justices did not take the cases, the lower court rulings in each state stand. The Court did not give a reason for why they refused the cases.
Tim Chambless, a political science professor at the U, said he is not surprised by the decision.
“Historically, the Supreme Court gets involved in hearing appeals where there have been differences in lower courts,” Chambless said. “What we’re seeing here is what appears to be a unanimous view in the lower courts where the right to marry has been determined by judges and legislatures to be legal and a constitutional right.”
As an immediate outcome of the Court’s decision, Chambless said the issue is a matter of legal rights.
“It’s simple fairness that people have the right to due process, and the Court has indicated that it applies to marriage,” he said.
State Rep. Kraig Powell (R-Heber City) said the impact of the decision is more significant for individual states.
“It’s going to require some major effort on the part of the legislature,” Powell said. “A federal judge can’t just snap their fingers and say, ‘This is the way it is.’ State and local officials have to administer the system so those changes can be written into Utah law.”
Powell is currently drafting an open bill in the Utah House of Representatives to determine what needs to be addressed legally on the status about marriage. Marriage statutes are currently labeled “husband and wife” and will have to be rewritten. Powell said there are also other questions concerning how the new laws will apply to same-sex families. He said the issue may take many years — possibly decades — to work out.
Governor Gary Herbert said in a press conference Monday that he was surprised by the Court’s decision.
“While I continue to believe states should have the right to define marriage and create laws regarding marriage, ultimately we are a nation of laws … and we will uphold the law,” Herbert said.
Herbert said the topic will “continue to be an emotional issue,” but he wants “all Utahns — regardless of their personal beliefs on this issue — to treat each other with respect and kindness.”
Nicholas Redmond, a senior in history, said he thinks reactions to the new same-sex marriage laws will be similar to Utah’s reaction to Obamacare.
“I think officially they can’t do anything about it, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try to enact restrictions,” Redmond said. “There will be a big song and dance, but in reality nothing will happen because the law will stand.”
Amber Mason, a senior in political science and sociology, said a potential disruption might come for religious organizations.
“There will probably be a big uproar because people think religious institutions have an obligation to perform marriages,” Mason said. “But the decision doesn’t mean we have to force any religion to recognize it.”
Zach Whalen, a senior in political science and history, hopes the aftermath of the decision will be handled delicately.
“The traditional pillar of marriage has been an integral part of our society since the beginning,” Whalen said. “As such, we have to be careful when implementing radical transitions.”
As of yesterday morning, Utah clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
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