Utah may be the 18th marriage equality state, although it is becoming difficult to figure out how to number them. Today, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby granted an injunction to the plaintiffs in Kitchen v. Herbert, a federal constitutional challenge to Utah’s statutory and state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Shelby, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, ruled that the right of same-sex couples to marry is a “fundamental right” under the 14th Amendment, and that the state had shown no rational basis to deny this right to same-sex couples. Shelby did not stay his order, and the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples shortly after the decision was announced, although the state might still file an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
Two Utah lawyers, Peggy Tomsic and James E. Magleby, filed suit on behalf of three same-sex couples, two of which had been denied marriage licenses by county clerks, while the third couple was married in Iowa and is seeking recognition of their marriage in their domicile state of Utah. The case moved quickly to summary judgment, the cross-motions being argued just weeks ago. Judge Shelby’s opinion may be the first ruling to reference yesterday’s marriage equality ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court, in a footnote listing the states that have adopted marriage equality through court decisions. It is definitely the first federal court ruling since the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor to hold that same-sex couples have a federal constitutional right to marry, guaranteed by the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses.
[To read the full article, see here.] This article is worth reading in full.