SALT LAKE CITY – A federal judge declared Utah’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional Friday afternoon.
In a 53-page ruling, federal Judge Robert Shelby struck down Utah’s Amendment 3 as unconstitutional, as it “denies the plaintiffs their rights of due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
The plaintiffs are three same-sex couples who sued Utah over its same-sex marriage ban. Amendment 3 classifies marriage as being between a man and a woman only.
“The State of Utah has provided no evidence that opposite-sex marriage will be affected in any way by same-sex marriage,” Shelby said in his ruling. He continued:
Moreover, the Constitution protects the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights, which include the right to marry and the right to have that marriage recognized by their government. These rights would be meaningless if the Constitution did not also prevent the government from interfering with the intensely personal choices an individual makes when that person decides to make a solemn commitment to another human being.
The ruling can be read in its entirety here.
The following statement is from Cody Craynor, spokesperson for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concerning the ruling:
The Church has been consistent in its support of traditional marriage while teaching that all people should be treated with respect. This ruling by a district court will work its way through the judicial process. We continue to believe that voters in Utah did the right thing by providing clear direction in the state constitution that marriage should be between a man and a woman and we are hopeful that this view will be validated by a higher court.
Approximately 66 percent of Utah voters voted in favor of Amendment 3 in 2004.
Same-sex marriage licenses have begun to be issued across the state in the wake of the ruling.
The Utah’s Attorney General’s Office has stated will it seek an emergency stay of the Amendment 3 ruling:
The federal district court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right has never been established in any previous case in the 10th Circuit. The state is requesting an emergency stay pending the filing of an appeal. The Attorney General’s Office will continue reviewing the ruling in detail until an appeal is filed to support the constitutional amendment passed by the citizens of Utah.
While the LDS Church and some state officials do not agree with the ruling, others are celebrating it.
“We’re glad that the court has ruled against this discriminatory law,” said John Mejia, legal director of the ACLU of Utah, in a statement. “This law only serves to deny loving and committed couples the protection and dignity that only comes with marriage. We congratulate the brave couples who brought this challenge and their legal team.”
Equality Utah posted on its Facebook page:
Marriage is about committed couples who want to take responsibility for each other – and who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of each-other, in sickness and in health. Thank you Judge Shelby for striking down Utah’s Amendment 3.
The Washington County Clerk’s Office has begun to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after waiting on advisement from the county attorney’s office.
“I believe everyone on this earth was created by God, and deserves to be treated with respect,” Apple Valley resident Cathy Williams said. “However, I personally believe in the traditional, biblical definition of marriage; that it is meant to be between a man and a woman.”
Randy Thomson, of Ivins, said: “Such a joyous moment for all Utahns. This is history in the making, and such an enormous step for equal rights. This is the happiest moment thus far in my life! To have my home state, the state I was born and raised in to say that I’m an equal human being means more than I think words could express.”
Annettie Cannvale, of Ivins: “Words cannot express how overjoyed I am at hearing this news. I am a straight, married woman who has been a supporter of same-sex marriage and equal rights all my life. As a resident of Utah, it gives me great pride to know that our state now aligns with this very important cause and will allow all marriages to stand as equal … Today gives us all hope for a brighter future and a better tomorrow, and is well deserved.”
St. George News reporter Alexa Verdugo Morgan contributed to this article.
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