Friday’s surprising decision that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional has resulted in an unsurprising flurry of political debate.
Controversially, some Utah counties have attempted to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. According to last night’s Salt Lake Tribune, only 22 of the state’s 29 counties are complying with Judge Shelby’s “plain talk” from yesterday in which he upheld his ruling and denied any delay in its implementation.
For now, same-sex weddings have proceeded apace. As USA Today reported this morning:
About 700 gay couples have obtained wedding licenses since U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby on Friday declared Utah’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but lawyers for the state are trying every legal avenue to halt the practice. Shelby on Monday denied their bid to temporarily stop gay marriage while the appeals process plays out, and they quickly went to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
How long that will continue is still undetermined; the legal wrangling could continue for months. But in the meantime, hundreds of happy couples and their friends and families are reporting their joy as they wait for hours in line to obtain a license from counties where they are being issued.
In my Facebook feed this morning, I saw to my delight that a high school friend from Illinois who now lives in Salt Lake City had posted a picture of the line he and his longtime partner were waiting in as they prepared to take this next step.
And then, hours later, the joyous photo of the two of them . . . with their marriage license.
For me and many others, this is thrilling. However, as I noted on Friday, the LDS Church responded swiftly with an official statement that marriage should be solely between a man and a woman, and many Mormons have expressed anger and opposition to the judge’s ruling. In an editorial yesterday for Meridian Magazine, Maurine Proctor wrote:
In a move that is both arrogant and irresponsible, one district judge overstepped his bounds, trampled the constitution of Utah, ignored the clear will of thousands of voters and imposed same-sex marriage on Utah on Dec. 20.
Conservative Mormons are railing against “activist judges,” while progressive Mormons are taking aim at Utah governor Gary Herbert for attempting multiple measures to stop the judge’s ruling. The “activist governor” has received his very own satire at By Common Consent, a clever and funny rendition of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Here’s an excerpt:
They’d do something he liked least of all!
Every Gay down in Zion, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, like they’re dressed for the Emmys.
They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Gays would start FAMILIES!
They’d sing! And they’d sing!
AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Gov thought of the Gay-Marriage-Sing
The more the Gov thought, “I must stop this whole thing!
“Why for fifty-three hours I’ve put up with it now!
I MUST stop Gay families from forming!
Some progressives have also noted that the long-championed argument of the Religious Right — that same-sex marriage would do material harm to traditional marriage between a man and a woman — is actually coming true thanks to the conservative backlash. In some of the counties where licenses are being denied, they are being denied to everyone, not just to same-sex couples.