SALT LAKE CITY -- Dec. 20, 2013 was the Salt Lake County clerk’s office busiest day to date. It was the start of a historic and controversial ruling, and the beginning of married life for more than 1,200 same-sex couples in Utah.
“We’re on our way. We’re very excited,” said Lisa and Trudy Hardin-Reynolds, who were the last couple to be married on Dec. 20.
Monday, the couple is celebrating their marriage again. This time, they’re hoping the state officials will actually have to recognize the union, following a federal court ruling ordering Utah to do so.
“We’re excited,” Lisa Hardin-Reynolds said. “I think we’re making progress. We’re ecstatic as a family. It means so much to us to be able further this along and to be recognized as a family.”
The parents of two hopes the ruling is a sign of what’s to come for same-sex couples here and across the country.
“It’s one more step,” Trudy Hardin-Reynolds said. “It’s not a final step. But it’s one more step in the right direction.”
But opponents feel it’s merely a misstep by a federal judge.
“I think the ruling is a mistake. It rewards federal courts for acting without waiting for the full appeals process to go forward and that’s really what should happen here,” said Bill Duncan of the Sutherland Institute.
The conservative group believes marriage is defined as a union between a man and woman. They feel federal judges across the country have been overreaching with their rulings.
“The judge’s ruling says that the state can’t take away marriage that already existed,” Duncan said. “But the marriages only existed because another judge said, ‘The constitution requires it.’ Well, if we go up on appeal and find out the constitution doesn’t require that then these marriages would have been treated as invalid.”
As the debate over same-sex marriage continues, the couples at the center of it all are seeing each fight in court as a way to victory for their family.
“It maybe one step forward and two back but we are on our way, and thank God. Thank God we are on our way,” Lisa Hardin-Reynolds said.
The judge’s ruling will not take effect for 21 days, in order to allow the Utah Attorney General’s Office the opportunity to appeal.