Utahns rally as SCOTUS hears oral arguments for same-sex marriage

Posted at 10:33 PM, Apr 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-29 10:31:54-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Thousands of miles away from where the U.S. Supreme Court took up the case on same-sex marriage, a crowd in downtown Salt Lake City weighed in.

“This is something that the time has come for, and it's going to happen,” said local resident Eddie Scott.

Outside the Piper Down Pub, they rallied in support of marriage equality.  Holding signs and wearing shirts, they called on the court to make a decision they felt was long overdue for same-sex couples around the country.

“In other states right now, people are still fighting for this, and it just doesn't seem fair,” said Colleen Mewing, who married her wife when Utah’s ban was first struck down in 2013.

In the case, the justices will be deciding whether or not same-sex marriage is a constitutional right.

Tuesday, they heard arguments involving Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio.  In those states, a federal appeals court upheld bans on same-sex marriage, which prompted challenges from a dozen couples.

“If they don't make a decision now, that would throw us back 20 years or more,” Jolene Mewing said.

But many Utahns are hoping for a different outcome than the Mewings.

In a separate rally held at the Utah State Capitol, families rallied in support of traditional marriage that is marriage between a man and wife.

"We believe that God is the authority on this issue, and no matter what ruling by man that can change that,” said Andrew Almanza, who attended with his wife and children.

Many held signs reading “66%,” referring to the percentage of Utahns who voted to ban same-sex marriage with the passage of Amendment 3 back in 2004.

"The people are the ones that make the decision, especially on the state level. If it works for a state to do that, then the state should be able to move ahead in that way,” said Katie Richards.

But if the court does rule against the couples challenging the bans, it is unclear what would happen next in Utah, according to legal analysts.

“If the Supreme Court were to go the other way, it would really be quite chaotic because there’d be more than a half million gay Americans who are married.  They would then have to figure out what to do with all those marriages,” said Clifford Rosky, a law professor at the University of Utah.

But according to Bill Duncan of the Marriage Law Foundation, the state does have a law in place defining marriage as a union between man and woman.  He argues that while the lower federal appeals court deemed it to be unconstitutional, a different ruling could change that.

“My guess is that the Governor would just say, ‘This is the law in the books,’” Duncan said. “It’s not unconstitutional because the previous ruling saying it was has been defacto overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. And so, Utah would be able to enforce its law again.”

A decision from the court is not expected until June.