Utah marriage equality battle heads to federal court in Colorado

The legal battle over marriage equality in Utah is headed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, at the Byron White Federal Courthouse in Denver. Photo courtesy Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

SALT LAKE CITY – The ongoing legal battle after the court ruling overturning Utah’s same-sex marriage ban last year is heading to federal court in Colorado.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday from attorneys representing three same-sex couples and those representing the state of Utah.

Clifford Rosky, board chairman at Equality Utah and a law professor at the University of Utah, said the state has to prove that allowing marriage equality will in some way harm society.

“The problem is, they didn’t show that,” Rosky said. “They conceded that Amendment 3 harms same-sex couples, but they didn’t show that letting same-sex couples marry would harm anybody.”

Late last year, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby overturned Amendment 3, which had amended the Utah state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The U.S. Supreme Court then granted a temporary injunction stopping same-sex marriages while the state of Utah continues its efforts to overturn Shelby’s ruling.

Rosky said the 10th Circuit Court’s three-judge panel won’t likely issue a ruling in the case until later this summer. Whatever the panel decides probably won’t be the last word on this issue, he said.

“Both sides have said, ‘If we lose, we’re going all the way to the Supreme Court.’ This case will be appealed to the Supreme Court,” Rosky said. “Whether or not the Supreme Court takes it is an open question.”

Rosky said it could take a year or more for this issue to wind its way through the court system. About 1,000 same-sex couples in Utah were married prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s temporary injunction that stopped the weddings.

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