Utah AG appealing directly to US Supreme Court in gay marriage case, skipping appeals court

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Attorney General's Office said it intends to take its appeal of Utah's ban on same-sex marriage directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a statement to FOX 13 on Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said his office would not seek a review of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision that declared Amendment 3 unconstitutional.

Read the statement from the Utah Attorney General's Office:

"To obtain clarity and resolution from the highest court, the Utah Attorney General's Office will not seek en banc review of the Kitchen v. Herbert Tenth Circuit decision, but will file a Petition for Writ of Certioari to the United States Supreme Court in the coming weeks. Attorney General Reyes has a sworn duty to defend the laws of our state.  Utah's Constitutional Amendment 3 is presumed to be constitutional unless the highest court deems otherwise."

MORE: Follow the Amendment 3 case from the start 

Peggy Tomsic, the attorney for the three gay couples who sued Utah over Amendment 3, told FOX 13 she was disappointed in the state's decision to appeal, but would begin preparing to fight it.

"In terms of the decision to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, our objective from day one is to expeditiously resolve this case so we can bring equality and fairness back to same-sex couples and their families," she said.

Tomsic said the case could potentially be heard on the U.S. Supreme Court's fall term, with a decision by next year. Other court observers have said it would likely be next year before arguments are heard with a ruling in June 2015.

If the nation's top court were to hear the Amendment 3 case, it could decide same-sex marriage for the rest of the nation.

Amendment 3 passed in 2004 with 66-percent of the vote, defining marriage in Utah as between a man and a woman, and refusing to recognize any other type of union. Three same-sex couples challenged it. On Dec. 20, 2013, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled Amendment 3 was unconstitutional.

For 17 days, more than 1,200 same-sex couples married in Utah until the U.S. Supreme Court halted it pending an appeal.

A detailed account of same-sex marriages performed in Utah's 29 counties during the 17-days it was allowed.

A detailed account of same-sex marriages performed in Utah's 29 counties during the 17-days it was allowed.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in April over Utah's appeal. In June, the federal appeals court upheld the Shelby decision -- declaring Amendment 3 unconstitutional again.

The appeals court granted a stay on any more same-sex marriages while Utah considered going to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the court were to decline to consider Utah's case, the decision by the 10th Circuit Court would stand -- striking down same-sex marriage bans in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma.

LGBT activists deliver a petition to the Governor's Mansion urging him to drop the Amendment 3 appeal.

LGBT activists deliver a petition to the Governor's Mansion urging him to drop the Amendment 3 appeal.

Coincidentally, the decision came as several dozen gay rights activists were hand-delivering a 3,800-signature petition to the Governor's Mansion, asking Utah Governor Gary Herbert to drop any appeals of Amendment 3.

The decision was greeted with mixed feelings from married same-sex couples.

"We want our family to be legitimized in this state," said Candice Green, who married her wife, Megan Barrett, the day Amendment 3 was declared unconstitutional on Dec. 20, 2013.

Others, like Sophia Hawes-Tingey, said it could legalize same-sex marriage for the United States.

"You know what? At this point, Sean Reyes vowed he was going to spend $2 million to fight same-sex marriage. That $2 million might give same-sex marriage across the U.S.," she said. "That would make me thankful for this."

MORE: Follow the Amendment 3 case from the start here

31 comments

  • Jerry Alm

    The states decision to appeal goes against my beliefs, but we will finally be at an end with this, and the healing can begin. Let the supreme court declare once and for all we will not allow discrimination against anyone in this great country!

    • trollololol

      White, male, heterosexual Christians are the most discriminated against group in this sad time we live in…

    • kartmann

      Regardless of your “beliefs” the governor and AG swore oaths to uphold and defend the Utah Constitution. To NOT appeal would break their oaths.

      We’re not paying them to pick and choose when to fulfill their promises.

  • shelfos

    Hopefully the Supreme Court will rule that Utah indeed has the right as a state to decide this issue for Utah. It SHOULD be a state’s right. If the citizens want to vote again and ultimately decide that it should be legal here, then so be it. But until then the people here have already spoken and it should stay that way until the people decide otherwise.

    • Michael

      “The people”? “State’s Right”? The people don’t get to bring up votes willy-nilly, if you can’t tell that with all what’s going on in this affair is that THE PEOPLE ARE SPEAKING and FIGHTING. This is how it works, a law gets passed Usually by few who hear about it and are in political circles. In Utah’s case, conservative christian republicans. Then if the people think it’s wrong, they fight it in court. That is how it works. And it’s working and when it hits the supreme court and the supreme court rules against the appeal it will wholly solidify that it doesn’t matter which way you swing or don’t, you are a citizen of the United States of America and deserve the same rights as every other citizen!

      • kartmann

        Michael: It was an AMENDMENT, passed by a 2/3 majority of VOTERS. Not the legislature. It’s YOUR side that uses a few old people in black robes to contradict the will of the People…..and in this matter issue isn’t even within the realm of “government.” Marriage belongs to society, not government. This is nothing but using the courts to engineer society. By no stretch of the imagination is this a “free country.”

    • usfbull

      So what if the voters in my state, Florida, overwhelmingly voted to outlaw the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from operating within our borders? You need to be crystal clear about the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause. All state and local laws are subordinate to federal laws, particularly the Constitution. If every single voter in Utah decided to ban gay marriage, it still WOULD NOT MATTER because it is still unconstitutional (in the same way that my religion example is. Democracy is way more than just rule of the majority; it is also ensuring the rights of the minority are not trampled.

  • Keith Leffler

    Hey Shelfos, should the people decide if whites can marry African-Americans? how about if ugly people should be allowed to marry pretty people? How about if any non-LDS person should be allowed to marry at all? Lets let the PEOPLE decide, cause they are NEVER wrong…

    • Arlee

      Take a college course in logic. Because your argument is illogical and makes no sense. But then the whole cause and argument of the alphabet soup group makes no sense. Maybe homosexuality is a mental illness?

    • kartmann

      Keith, society has always decided who is married and who is not, and will always continue to do so. No government can force someone to refer to a man’s “husband”, or a woman’s “wife.” Plenty of people don’t consider Mormon temple marriages to be legitimate. But the government recognizes the financial contract, which is its only power in this matter. It cannot force anyone to think a certain way.

      So to answer your question: They already do, when they choose to. “Marriage” belongs to society, not government.

      When did liberals begin to worship authority, rather than mistrust it? I suspect it happened about the time baby boomers became authority.

  • Patty

    WOW this started out asking for Utah to vote on marriage. We did that after you guys asking for it, so after the vote wasnt in your favor now utah is unconstatutional so why should we go to the supreme court cuz you cant except the way the people voted. No you give up!!!!
    Of course we are fighting against your union and how you plan on actually having kids and calling it a family.GO FOR IT the supreme court and anything else to get rid of your lawsuits

    • rich

      If the vote was taken today again we would still vote in favor of marriage between a man and a women…

      • Lolz

        Didn’t know you spoke for the public. People like you make me sick. Even the LDS people I speak with constantly say who the **** cares anymore. We have more important things to focus on. But I guess you speak for God and everyone else as well.

      • Arlee

        LOLZ, you really should take an anger management class. And at least keep taking your meds to help with your delusional thought process.

  • Rory Siwik

    I am happy to chip into a fund to help Utah take on this fight. If anyone knows of a coalition helping fund Utahs case in opposition, it would be money well spent. Please let me know. Thanks.

  • Rory Siwik

    Surely SOME of these states have a less than majority Mormon/LDS population.

    Why I pose the question, do they have bans?

    Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma.

    • Arlee

      Rory, I think the number with bans against homosexual marriage is more than 39 states. All states except the two left coasts.

  • your trash

    Why does utah think they are so special. The decision on utah will only affect utah. The AG is an idiot gotta get his name out there for when he goes for a higher positon. The supreme court is going to side with the right decision on HUMAN RIGHTS!! Who do you homophobes think you are god you think you can take away HUMAN RIGHTS!! No im sorry it doesnt happen like that no matter how many votes for this law its a HUMAN RIGHTS issue. I honestly do not think that the supreme court will even take the case.

    • kartmann

      A refusal to hear the case constitutes a ruling, so that would be just fine. One way or another the issue has to be resolved.

      You need to take a civics class. And then perhaps some sensitivity training. Your hatred of anyone who disagrees with you is obvious.

    • trollololol

      “Your trash”… You are an idiot. Sexual preferences are NOT rights. The Supreme Court will take this case. Remember 5 of the justices are males, conservative, and Catholic… If you don’t think that matters, then you’re ignorant.

      • kartmann

        Yes, unfortunately it does matter. Too bad. I’d like to think the Courts are bound by the Constitution, and by logic. But they are well aware of their power to engineer society itself.. That’s ironic, considering their authority is granted to them by society. The tail wags the dog.

  • kartmann

    Good. Only the Supreme Court can settle the issue. I’m glad they’re going to cut to the chase. It’ll save money.

    Meanwhile, the Amendment was enacted by a 2/3 majority of Utah voters. The Utah Constitution trumps all Utah state courts, so they have no say in the matter. Similarly, the Legislature cannot touch the Constitution.

    That leaves only the Executive Branch. The Governor and the Attorney General both take oaths to uphold and defend the Utah Constitution. Their hands are tied.

    So quit your whining. This is not a dictatorship. It’s not anarchy. We live by the rule of law, and our elected officials are bound to follow OUR rules, since they work for us. The Governor and the AG are not only doing the right thing, they’re doing the only thing they CAN do, ethically, morally and legally. That should be obvious to everyone regardless of what side of the issue you’re on.

    But liberals are never interested in the law unless it serves their whims.

  • Trish Ramirez

    The Supreme Court is going to decline to hear this case – I guarantee it – and in doing so, the Appeals court decision will be upheld and LGBT marriage will be legal in Utah. All of the marriages that were performed will be considered valid, too. I’d bank on it.

    Why? The Supreme Court ALREADY dealt with the whole LGBT marriage thing last year. They turned it over to the states. And the Supreme Court of our State says that LGBT marriage is legal, that the Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman violates the civil rights of LGBT citizens and is therefore void.

    This whole debacle will be over in a few months, with Utah having wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on hate because some politicians want to get reelected.

    It’s over.

    • rich

      Your interpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision is way out of context. You should really go back and read it. If what you say is factual we would not be having all these lawsuits.

    • Arlee

      Trish, it’s time for you to take your meds. Even if your theory held water, which it does not, homosexual acts are still a criminal offense under the Utah Code and you will never change that. If the Salt Lake City Police Department enforced the Utah Criminal Code then over half of the alphabet soup group would be in prison. An undercover vice cop with SLCPD told me the deviant homosexual behavior they have to do sting operations on is sickening.

      • kartmann

        Arlee, many states still have those laws on the books, but they’ve been struck down as unconstitutional at the Federal level. The behavior is legal. Sorry. Nice try, though. You get an “A” for effort.

    • kartmann

      Trish, for the benefit of people who might actually understand, I’ll explain it to you again: UTAH COURTS HAVE NO SAY IN THIS MATTER. Including the Utah Supreme Court. Why? Because the issue is a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, and the Utah Constitution trumps the Utah Supreme Court.

      The Court cannot find the Constitution to be “unconstitutional.”

      The government, including the Courts, derive their authority from the People, via OUR Constitution.

      What will probably happen is that, through refusing to hear the case, the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold the lower FEDERAL court ruling.

      There will be a quiz later. I suggest if you’re going to shoot your mouth off you at least have a basic, grade school understanding of how our system of government works.

      • kartmann

        If you don’t believe me, Trish, then riddle me this: Why did slavery become illegal even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was legal and constitutional in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857)?

        Because the 13th Amendment overruled the Supreme Court. The courts have no authority to rule the Constitution itself “unconstitutional.”

Comments are closed.