In Utah same-sex marriage case, many ‘friends of the court’

Posted at 10:30 AM, Sep 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-08 13:21:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- As the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether or not to even hear Utah's appeal of two federal courts' decision to strike down the state's same-sex marriage ban, a number of political groups, corporations and states are urging the nation's top court to jump in.

In a series of "friend of the court" briefs filed with the court, groups on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate have urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider Kitchen v. Herbert.

"Rarely will a case present a more compelling need for this Court’s review," wrote the attorneys general for 17 states, including Colorado, Oklahoma, Alabama and Wisconsin.

Read the filing here:

Other states' attorneys general sided with the couples seeking to overturn Utah's ban on same-sex marriage.

"The Amici States file this brief based on our shared belief that marriage equality advances many important governmental interests, as well as our shared interest
in guarding against the evils of discrimination," wrote the attorneys general for 15 states, including Massachusetts, Delaware, New Mexico, California and New York.

Read the filing here:

Other groups asking the state to take up the case included the gay rights groups Freedom to Marry, and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); and same-sex marriage opponents Eagle Forum and the Foundation for Moral Law.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious groups to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to reject same-sex marriage.

"In our view, Utah’s petition offers the ideal vehicle to decide the constitutionality of State laws defining and recognizing marriage as only between a man and a woman," the religious groups wrote.

Read the filing here:

Eighty members of the Utah State Legislature filed an amicus urging the court to hear the case, and side with the state on Amendment 3. In the filing, they argued that the voters decided marriage laws in Utah when they passed the constitutional amendment in 2004.

They also argued that overturning Amendment 3 would affect many parts of state government, from the teaching of human sexuality in schools to divorce court and DCFS. They also said the case could be used to justify polygamy and incest.

Read the filing here:

In a separate filing, 21 Utah counties urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject same-sex marriage expressing "concern about the direct and collateral social consequences" of redefining marriage.

"Among those disturbing social consequences is the phenomenon of increased rates of abortion and diminished, diluted social shared understanding of marriage and marital responsibilities," BYU professor Lynn Wardle wrote on behalf of the counties.

Read the filing here:


In its own amicus filing, 30 companies urged the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case.

"We are located or operate in states across the country, some of which recognize marriages of those of our employees whose spouses are of the same sex, and others that prohibit marriages between same-sex couples and refuse to recognize existing same-sex marriages," the companies wrote. "This dual and continuously shifting regime uniquely burdens amici. This legal uncertainty exposes us, as employers, to unnecessary cost, risk, and administrative complexity."

Read the filing here:

The U.S. Supreme Court could decide as early as the end of this month whether or not to take up Kitchen v. Herbert, or any of the other same-sex marriage cases ruled on recently. Arguments would likely not be heard until next year with a ruling anticipated by June 2015.

Last year, a federal judge in Salt Lake City struck down Amendment 3, a voter-approved constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman and refused to recognize anything else. That cleared the way for more than 1,200 same-sex couples to wed in 17 days before SCOTUS halted it, pending appeal.

Utah appealed to the 10th Circuit Court in Denver, which also declared Amendment 3 unconstitutional, saying it violated gay and lesbian couples' right to equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.