A federal judge has ruled that a Utah law banning same-sex marriages violates gay couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued a 53-page ruling nullifying the law passed by Utah voters in 2004, saying the state of Utah failed to demonstrate that allowing same-sex marriages would harm traditional marriages.
“In the absence of such evidence, the State’s unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the State’s refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens,” Shelby wrote.
As soon as the ruling was announced, the Salt Lake County clerk’s office began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Deputy Clerk Dahnelle Burton-Lee said the district attorney gave her office permission to start issuing the licenses.
Ryan Bruckman, a spokesman for the Utah attorney general’s office, said the state would appeal the ruling and has asked for a stay that would stop marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples until the appeal can be heard.
The Mormon Church, which is based in Utah, released a statement Friday saying, “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.”