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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 6 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 23
State of Utah appeals ruling to enforce its own marriage laws
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State of Utah appeals ruling to enforce its own marriage laws

by Tim Moffett - SGN Staff Writer

On May 19, U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball (United States District Court, Utah Central Division) ordered that the State of Utah must immediately recognize the validity of over 1,000 LGBT couples who were legally married in the state between December 20, 2013 and January 6, 2014. In his order, Judge Kimball granted the state a 21-day stay of the decision to allow time for an emergency appeal.

On June 4, a filing with the trial court stated 'Defendants State of Utah, Governor Gary Hebert, in his official capacity, and Attorney Sean Reyes, in his official capacity, (collectively referred to as 'the State') hereby appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit from the Memorandum Decision entered on May 19, 2014.'

The Motion for Preliminary Injunction, heard on March 12, was filed by four Utah LGBT couples who were issued marriage licenses and were legally married in the brief window of time marriage equality was the law of the land in the state of Utah, due to a decision issued in Kitchen v. Herbert. The plaintiffs argued that a state policy decision of January 8 stating, that 'state recognition of same-sex marital status is ON HOLD until further notice' denied them their vested constitutional rights as legally married persons without due process.

Judge Kimball agreed with the plaintiffs, citing that legislation is intended to be proactive and not retroactive; meaning that while the state can determine what constitutes a valid marriage, it cannot apply that determination to marriages that were previously entered into legally under then-valid law.

Judge Kimball noted, 'Even though the Supreme Court's Stay Order put Utah's marriage bans back in place, to retroactively apply the bans to existing marriages, the State must demonstrate some state interest in divesting Plaintiffs of their already vested marriage rights. The State has failed to do so.

'Although the State has an interest in applying state law, that interest is only in applying the controlling law at the time.'

A ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on the Kitchen case is expected soon; arguments in that case were heard in April.

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