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.
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.