Utah will be taking the fight over gay marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court. The state attorney general’s office announced Wednesday it would be challenging a June 25 ruling from a federal appeals court. The statement said Attorney General Sean Reyes has a duty to defend state laws, and that Amendment 3 would be presumed constitutional unless the Supreme Court decides otherwise.
The state had the option of taking the case back to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals where a panel of three judges ruled in favor of six plaintiffs in the Kitchen v. Herbert case. The ruling said same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry.
Equality Utah’s Executive Director Brandie Balken says she isn’t surprised by the state’s decision, though she was hoping for a different outcome.
“I was disappointed because we know that every day that this decision is not upheld by the state of Utah, that there are families—real Utah families—that are living in legal limbo,” Balken said.
The state’s decision came on the same day a group of 65 community members delivered a petition to the Utah Governor’s Mansion. They asked Governor Gary Herbert not to appeal the federal court’s ruling. Balken said the petition contained nearly 4,000 signatures in support of marriage equality in the state.
“Governor Herbert has worked very, very hard to show that Utah is ready to welcome the world when it comes to economic development,” said Balken. “Yet, we’re also sending a very firm message that Utah is kind of a hostile place unless you fall into a very narrow definition of a family.”
Herbert has said in the past that clarity and finality regarding same-sex marriage will only come from the Supreme Court. He has also stated that his personal opinion on the issue doesn’t matter, and that if Utah had a law protecting gay marriage he would defend it just as he is currently defending the ban.
If the Supreme Court decides not to hear Utah’s Appeal, the most recent ruling from the 10th Circuit Court would become law.