Lawyer for Utah talks same-sex marriage case, other issues

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The man heading up Utah’s fight in federal court over same-sex marriage is not the political firebrand you might expect.

Parker Douglas said he's dedicated to the system of justice--not to one side of the monumental fight he's waging.

“It weighs on me a great deal,” he said regarding same-sex marriage. “I have friends and family, who have various beliefs on all sides of the issue. I think it's important to get finality on that, and finality in an ordered way.”

Same-sex marriage is the highest profile fight he heads up, but it's the tip of the iceberg with public lands, immigration and other issues on his docket. Douglas is Utah's federal solicitor and the chief of staff for Attorney General Sean Reyes.

His resume has some surprises, including the defense of one of Utah’s most infamous men.

He said: “So I actually did have quite a few people ask me: ‘How can you do that?' I was one of the co-lead counsels in Bryan David Mitchell`s case and defended Mr. Mitchell, and that was not an easy thing to do. But we're asked in our adversary system to make the best arguments, so that the court can decide. My personal beliefs have absolutely nothing to do with the legal arguments I raise in court. ”

Douglas earned a Ph.D. in English before he got his law degree. In earlier work with law firm Latham and Watkins, he helped the Innocence Project--which seeks to exonerate death row inmates.