Will Utah Be the Next State to Protect Gay-Headed Families?

Some activists believe marriage equality, with all its benefits for children as well as adults, will arrive soon in Utah.

BY Alex Davidson

October 14 2013 1:59 PM ET

A weekend opinion piece in The Salt Lake Tribune makes the case that marriage equality is not far off in Utah, which bans same-sex marriage, prohibits the recognition of out-of-state unions such as domestic partnerships, and prevents gay couples from jointly adopting children.

Authors Paul Burke, John Mackay, and Brett Tolman make their case against Utah’s Amendment 3, a constitutional amendment passed in November 2004. Voters approved the amendment by a two-thirds majority, but the measure’s viability is now in question given the U.S. Supreme Court’s striking down of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in June.

Burke, Mackay, and Tolman, who filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Utah Pride Center and a national coalition of equality groups earlier this year in the marriage cases, write:

The arrival of marriage equality in Utah is no longer beyond the horizon. On Friday, motions for summary judgment were filed in a federal court case calling for the invalidation of Amendment 3, Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The state of Utah currently enforces a comprehensive system of laws that denigrate LGBT Utahns through every stage in life. From the moment a child has an inkling of being gay, during adolescence, throughout adulthood and all the way to the grave, LGBT Utahns are haunted by state laws that deny their existence, demean them as lesser human beings, and denigrate their lives and family relationships.

The authors claim the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision applies equally to Utah’s attempt to exclude same-sex couples from getting married. They say the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Utah’s Amendment 3 are equally unconstitutional.

In addition to prohibiting same-sex marriage, Utah also has made it illegal for same-sex couples to adopt children. Mississippi is the only other state in the country to have a law preventing these couples from adopting. The Human Rights Campaign has a map showing the 50 states’ adoption laws.

Burke, Mackay, and Tolman remain confident, though, that gay couples will soon be able to tie the knot in Utah despite the state’s historically hostile political climate:

The inevitable will soon become reality when Utah’s federal district court applies the Supreme Court’s ruling to Utah’s discriminatory Amendment 3. Marriage equality is coming soon to Utah, and our state will be a better place when the LGBT community no longer suffers from discrimination and second-class citizenship.

Only time will tell if they are right.

 

Contact reporter Alex Davidson on Twitter at Twitter.com/adwildcat.

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