U.S. Supreme Court meets to consider Utah same-sex marriage case

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen have won twice against the state of Utah, but they're asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case anyway.

The couple, who sued the state over its ban on same-sex marriage, told FOX 13 they would like the high court to settle the issue of marriage for the entire nation.

"We all just want a resolution to this," Kitchen said Monday. "We want to get married, and a lot of the folks who believe that Amendment 3 was right would like to know for sure what the Supreme Court thinks. So we want a speedy resolution."

On Monday, the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court met behind closed doors to consider cases for the next term. Utah's appeal of Amendment 3 was among seven dealing with same-sex marriage.

Last year, a federal judge in Salt Lake City ruled Amendment 3 -- which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and doesn't recognize anything else -- was unconstitutional. That decision led to more than 1,200 same-sex couples marrying in Utah until the U.S. Supreme Court intervened, granting Utah's request for a stay while it appealed.

Same-sex marriage estimates in Utah

The number of same-sex marriage licenses issued in the 17 days it was allowed in Utah, according to an analysis of public records by FOX 13.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals again ruled against Utah, stating that Amendment 3 violated gay and lesbian couples' rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Utah has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, a move supported by the plaintiffs.
Parker Douglas, the federal solicitor for the Utah Attorney General's Office, said Amendment 3 is one of the clearest for the court to decide. The court has already been involved in it (granting stays), there is only the state and the plaintiffs, and the governor and attorney general's office have been unified in defending it.

"They really are just pure legal questions: Does the state have the authority to define marriage? Does it retain that after the Windsor case? Does it have the ability to recognize marriages that are only in accord with its definitions?" he told FOX 13.

It only takes four justices to grant a petition, but there is no timetable for the court to decide if it will take any same-sex marriage case. Peter Stirba, a Salt Lake City attorney who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 (and is not connected to the Amendment 3 case) said the court moves at its own pace.

"They don't have to hear these things now. There's still some same-sex marriage bans that are going through other circuits. They could take one case, they could take three cases," he said. "Then they could completely say, 'We're not going to take any case at this point.' They have a lot of discretion."

If the court does not grant any of the same-sex marriage petitions, the decisions of the lower courts stand. Douglas said he anticipates the court will take a same-sex marriage case "earlier, rather than later."

Amendment 3 plaintiffs Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen, in an interview with FOX 13.

Amendment 3 plaintiffs Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen, in an interview with FOX 13.

As they wait to hear what the U.S. Supreme Court does, Sbeity told FOX 13 that he and Kitchen's wedding plans are on hold.

"We actually did want to do it this year," he said. "But we're going to wait until we are legally married. Because then it's going to feel..."

"Real," Kitchen added.

10 comments

  • Richard Krulisky

    This was voted by the people for the people! I just sick of our rights being stepped on. The people voted and they lost period. If they don’t like it then MOVE plain and simple.

    • guitaristbl in a silent storm..

      If you do not like people standing up for their constitutional rights and winning then you should move to a more authoritarian regime. You voting on the civil rights of a minority does not make it any more constitutional sorry.
      You’ll get used to the constitution and its power to protect ALL citizens, not just you and your ilk, you’ll see.

      • Dustin

        Well said. It’s so funny that people think the can vote against other people’s constitutional rights.

  • SEML

    The question Richard, is whether or not the people had a right to even vote on it. The argument is that the people can’t vote away rights which are guaranteed by the US Constitution. YOU are not having your rights stepped on. If you are straight, you can still get married. You say that people who don’t like the law should move? Because people automatically can afford to do that right? If you felt your rights were being violated, would you move? Doubtful. YOU are not affected by me being able to marry the person I love. If you are, that’s your issue, and some counseling may be in order. You’ll find that you will feel a weight has been lifted once you let this chip on your shoulder fall off. Let the process work Richard. That’s the beauty of our country, that we can address our grievances.

  • Sassy6

    The point is, equality. Everyone who lives in this great nation should be treated equally. And, for that matter, treated with respect!!

    • Bob

      This respect that you refer to Sassy6? Does everybody living in this great nation include rapists, child molesters, and cop killers? Do they deserve to be treated with repect?

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