This photo in my Twitterfeed was the first news I had of today's court decision in Utah. My congratulations to these two newlyweds, and to everyone affected by the law.

This photo in my Twitterfeed was the first news I had of today’s court decision in Utah. My congratulations to these two newlyweds, and to everyone affected by the law. (screen shot)

It was just an ordinary Friday in the early evening when I checked in to Twitter and began to see the buzz.

Same-sex couples had just started taking out marriage licenses in Utah. Legally.

Say what?!  :-)

According to the New York Times announcement from earlier this evening,

A federal judge on Friday struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, saying it was unconstitutional.

The judge, Robert J. Shelby of Federal District Court for the District of Utah, issued a 53-page ruling that said Utah’s law, which was passed by voters in 2004, violated the rights of gay and lesbian couples to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

Immediately after the ruling, same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses — and receiving them. This from the Deseret News:

Within hours, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill confirmed that, in light of the ruling, he saw no reason to prohibit Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“We’ve advised Sherrie Swensen that she should proceed — as of right now … she should be processing those applications like she would of anyone else,” Gill said around 3 p.m. “As of right now, if somebody gets in line and applies, there is no prohibition against it as a matter of law right now.”

Let me join my voice to the chorus of joy to say I am feeling heartened and hopeful by this surprising news. I have many friends whose lives will be easier and better because they will be able to receive equal treatment under the law.

Certainly, the struggle is not over. Many are expecting a protracted legal battle, as this ruling will almost certainly result in an appeal. Many of the residents of Utah oppose same-sex marriage (though I have to wonder how much that percentage has changed since 2004 when voters approved the state’s same-sex marriage ban).

And the LDS Church continues its opposition to same-sex marriage. In a statement issued today, the Church said:

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.

I’m grateful that my church responded in a civil manner, emphasizing first and foremost that “all people should be treated with respect.” But I am saddened to feel that my church is on the wrong side of one of the great moral issues of our time.

Even so, my joy is full. As MLK put it, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

 

28 Comments

  1. If it were your church, you could do as you like. Being the restored church of Jesus Christ, it’s entirely His call according to His superior wisdom and knowledge. This is one more issue where believers humbly submit to the Father with the sentiment, “nevertheless not my will but Thine be done.”

  2. Why do homosexuals feel the need to impose on a divinely inspired mandate established by God in regard to marriage from the beginning, that of being between a man and a woman? Why couldn’t they just be satisfied to have their unions be called “same sex unions”, or just “civil unions”, etc, and still be entitled to all the benefits of a traditional marriage couple? I’m sitting here scratching my head looking at the picture above and trying to comprehend the absurdity of one man calling another… “my new husband!” Is it just me or does anyone else see the ridiculousness of it all?…a man calling another his husband or a woman calling another her wife? Doesn’t anyone see or understand the strangeness and silliness of all that and how confusing it is? Let me be clear, I am not opposed to them getting all the rights, benefits, and anything else that traditional married couples are entitle to. Let them have it all. It’s only fair and it’s the right thing to do. I just do not believe, and am fiercely opposed to the idea of their unions to be called a marriage because it’s not what God intended it from the beginning. I feel that my beliefs, which I believe represents the huge majority of the people in the state and in the country, are being severely trampled upon and ignored just to appease a very small, yet incessantly vocal minority.

    • thebigsamoan,

      I have heard this position before (“I’m comfortable with same-sex couples enjoying all the same legal rights and privileges as opposite-sex couples — just don’t call it ‘marriage’”). May I ask you to clarify the position?

      Specifically, WHO do you want to prevent from calling a legally sanctioned same-sex union “marriage”? The couple in question and their friends and family? The state? The church?

      Legislating vocabulary is impossible. I can call my union with my husband a “civil union,” a “partnership,” a “marriage,” a “life sentence.” The law cannot dictate my vocabulary.

      Now, if your position is that you do not believe your church should recognize the union of a same-sex couple as a marriage, then fine. That is not a legal position, but rather a religious opinion. There are any number of examples where the state recognizes two people as married, but one or another religious body does not.

      So, if what your church recognizes as marriage is in alignment with your beliefs, what difference does it make to you what vocabulary is used by the state or by couples marrying outside your church?

    • The “state” did no such thing. A single federal judge has overestimated his authority, and defecated upon the state constitution and its citizens. There’s a difference.

      • The State Constitution defecated on civil liberties in a perfect example of tactics used by the “tyranny of the majority”.

        One does not subject civil liberties to a vote because inevitably they are there to protect minorities from a majority which would have the power to vote their rights away.

        • Larry, I understand where you’re coming from, but from a Constitutional perspective we go through the amendment process when a new right is to be enshrined. By your argument, the institution of slavery should have been abolished by judicial decree citing “civil liberties” rather than passing the 13th amendment.

          If something as significant as involuntary servitude required a constitutional amendment to establish a previously unrecognized right, then something far less atrocious should require at least as much effort to enshrine.

          Supporters of same-sex marriage constantly argue that history is on their side, and that polls show that the majority of Americans now favor their position. If this is the case, supporters have nothing to fear in permitting history to follow its natural course leading to a constitutional amendment enshrining their position. Once accomplished, it would achieve a significant measure of societal legitimacy and crush opposing voices. We did not follow this path with Roe v Wade and our nation has never accepted the result. Is this really the alternative which supporters of same-sex marriage want? A victory won solely in the courts against the expressed will of the people, resulting in lasting contention? Is not societal acceptance of the result just about as important as establishing this new right?

          America was established in opposition to all-powerful rulers sitting upon thrones. We should be wary of surrendering the people’s supreme authority to individuals sitting upon judicial thrones as well, lest we wake up one day and discover that we are less pleased with their rule when they oppose our desires on other issues despite the will of the people.

          • No, you have it dead wrong and your analogy fails based on historical ignorance. What kept slavery from being brought back at a state level is the 14th Amendment which came after the 13th. Under your argument segregation should never have been abolished due to procedural mishap.

            The constitution does not enumerate our rights, it tells the government what it cannot do. Constitutional amendment would have been the only way civil liberties would have been passed at all levels prior to the advent of the 14th Amendment. Your argument is almost a century and a half too late.

            The 14th Amendment’s equal protection protection clause allows the federal government to override state and local government actions where liberties basic to human existence are restricted on a regional basis.

            The rest of your argument is just sour grapes whining that somehow society will vindicate your view.

            And no, societal acceptance is not even close to being equal to legal rights. One doesn’t need to win of the acceptance of people who are unreasonable and informed by bigotry. For example, racists will continue to be racists even though they lack the power to give their ideas color of law anymore. Nobody felt the need to ask their approval when the civil rights movement was in full swing. It was not worth the effort to “avoid making waves”. Seeking acceptance of the bible thumper set for SSM is equally useless.

  3. An Obama-appointed gay-marriage judge blindsided the people of Utah, just as his gay-marriage appointed him to do. Disenfranchising the Mormons of Utah and all other Americans of faith, in the name of gay marriage, is the disgraceful goal and legacy of Mr. Barack Obama..

    Most Mormons voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, and I salute each of you for doing so. You voted in full accordance with your faith and honor.

    In contrast, I am totally ashamed of my fellow Christians, millions of them, who sold out their faith and honor, and voted for Obama. I apologize to you for the gay-marriage mess that they have fueled.. By accident or by design, they have effectively stabbed American Christianity in the back.

    • The Utah judge had little option, given the recent case from California. The district court judge (who was a Reagan/GHW Bush appointment) in CA struck down the amendment there on the exact same ground the Utah judge used. That ruling was, in effect, sustained by the Supreme Court. Botton line is, marriage restrictions for same-sex couples are going the same was as previous restrictions that prevented whites and Asians or whites and blacks from marrying. Just a matter of how long it will take.

      • The Utah judge “had little option”? Really?

        When that Obama-appointed activist judge gets overturned on appeal, perhaps ANOTHER option (like respecting the right of all voters to vote their conscience on this issue, pro-or-con), will present itself.

        • Its called precedent.

          Its not going to be overturned in the courts because nobody who has your POV can’t cough up a legitimate, rational, secular argument to support themselves when faced with a court case. Unfortunately for those like yourself, phony slippery slope arguments, invoking the Bible, claiming a religious right to be a bigot, or saying gays are icky doesn’t fly in a court.

          I also find it ironic that a judge appointed by a very conservative president is suddenly a “liberal activist judge” when they rule against bible thumper inspired nonsense. They said the same thing about the judge in the PA creationist case (another Bush appointee)

          • Correction, the “liberal activist judge” appointed by a conservative president was the one in CA who shot down Prop 8.

      • Correction, he was an Obama appointee. You may continue your partisan blubbering. Judge Shelby was also a veteran of Desert Storm and was endorsed by both Republican senators of Utah for his nomination. Obviously he was not a controversial appointment by any stretch.

        Take it out on Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. =)

  4. Something you wrote has hit me wrong. When you wrote that, “Your” church is on the wrong side here I felt really sad. You see Christ is at the helm of “your” Church. So when I read it I read “my Savior” is on the wrong side of this issue. Ouch!

    Jana I have prayed about this issue a lot because it troubles me, but I have to trust that The Lord knows what he is doing.

    What does the Plan of Salvation mean? How does it all go together? Questions only Christ and Heavenly Father can answer.

  5. A new article in the Atlantic magazine does a fine job of illustrating the American divide on this issue: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/12/the-genuine-conflict-being-ignored-in-the-i-duck-dynasty-i-debate/282587/

    Denouncing one’s opponents as bigots may make one feel better, but it does nothing to further anyone’s cause.

    • Actually, it makes bigotry and the assumptions made through it less casually socially acceptable. It cuts through the idea that another side has a legitimate rational argument and just disagrees.

      There is nothing more pathetic than someone moaning:

      “you are the real bigots for not giving my prejudices legal power” or

      “You are playing the “race card”!

      The latter being the most ridiculous because it is not a denial someone is being a bigot. Just an admission that one is being thin skinned about having such things pointed out in public.

  6. This is the first federal ruling which applied a 14th Amendment equal protection standard in support of gay marriage. [The Prop 8 decision turned on issues of California Law. The DOMA case was decided on state's rights grounds]

    The anti-marriage equality crowd will moan a while but they if they have half a brain, they would be afraid to appeal the decision. Doing so would invite the probability of expanding the ruling to include all state constitutions instead of limiting it to Utah.

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