SALT LAKE CITY — Affirming a federal judge’s decision allowing same-sex marriage in Utah would be a “judicial wrecking ball” to state sovereignty, the state says in a new court filing.
State attorneys asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to let Utahns choose for themselves how to strike the right balance between competing interests in the marriage debate — a balance that in their judgment best serves the interest of children now and in the future.
Upholding U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s ruling would “impose — by judicial fiat rather than democratic processes — the novel principle that marriage is whatever emotional bond any two (or more) people say it is.”
The state also says it would establish in federal law the “corrosive principle that moms and dads are interchangeable and, ultimately, irrelevant to children.”
Utah’s latest arguments in its appeal of Shelby’s decision came just before midnight Friday as a reply to the brief filed last month by lawyers for three gay and lesbian couples who sued the state over its ban on same-sex marriage.
Both sides have now filed their written arguments and dozens of individuals and organizations have weighed in with friend-of-the-court briefs. The 10th Circuit will hear oral arguments April 10 in Denver.
The couples contend that Utah’s voter-approved Amendment 3 defining marriage as between a man and a woman treats same-sex couples as “legal strangers” and denies them the rights and benefits that married heterosexual couples enjoy. They say the purpose of the law is to impose inequality on same-sex couples and their children.
State attorneys say the law was not intended to cause harm to relationships outside traditional marriage.
The Tenth Circuit is one of the best courts in the federal system with a long-admired reputation for weighing cases carefully and ruling according to law. Given the SCOTUS decision on Prop 8 I’d say those folks from Utah are in for some tough sledding.