Same-sex marriage in Utah: ‘We are 100% the snowball’s chance in Hell’

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SALT LAKE CITY - Same-sex marriage is legal once again in Utah, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the state's appeal.

The nation's top court on Monday refused to hear cases from Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana. By declining to hear the petitions, the lower court rulings stand.

"What that means for us in Utah and all the states in the 10th Circuit, is we have marriage equality," cried Peggy Tomsic, the attorney for three gay couples who sued over Utah's ban. "It's an incredible thing that we've done!"

The court had met last week to consider same-sex marriage cases, including Utah's Amendment 3. The rejection of the case by the court stunned Tomsic.

"We are the 100-percent snowball's chance in hell," she said of same-sex marriage in Utah.

Governor Gary Herbert was more somber, stating at a news conference that he believed states should still have the right to define marriage.

"I was surprised about this and disappointed," the governor said. "I believe that the people deserve to have this hearing taking place at the Supreme Court level to determine what is a significant issue of our time."

Still, the governor directed state agencies to comply with the decision by the nation's top court. That includes joint tax returns, adoptions and name changes.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes also issued a letter to county attorneys and county clerks instructing them to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

"We wish that they and their teams would, with all professionalism, make sure they recognize all legal marriages," Reyes said.

By mid-morning, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had issued a mandate lifting the stay on same-sex marriage.

Read the order from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court:

At county clerk's offices, same-sex couples trickled in to obtain marriage licenses. It was nowhere near the flood that occurred when Amendment 3 was originally overturned last year.

Three gay and lesbian couples sued the state over Amendment 3, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman and did not recognize anything else. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby ruled in December 2013 that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Utah appealed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court in Denver, which also ruled Amendment 3 unconstitutional. The state then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider it -- a move supported by the plaintiffs themselves.

"The whole point is that every American citizen deserves the right to marry. So this battle is not over," said Moudi Sbeity, one of the Amendment 3 plaintiffs. "We are happy that we can get married here in our home state and we don't anticipate moving anywhere anytime soon, but we just hope that our fellow citizens will have the same right we do now."

Gov. Herbert told FOX 13 that he estimates Utah spent as much as $600,000 to appeal Amendment 3.  He believed it was money well spent.

"I think it's important that we in the executive branch uphold the laws put on the books by the people of Utah," the governor said. "We're not making any moral pronouncements here."

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear the cases brings the number of states with same-sex marriage now to 30. Tomsic said it would be very difficult to undo it, likening it to "trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube."

There is a lawsuit pending over same-sex marriages already performed in Utah. ACLU of Utah Legal Director John Mejia told FOX 13 that technically, it was still pending with the Utah Attorney General's Office due to file a response this week.

"As a practical matter, I'm not sure there's much left to hash out here," Mejia said, noting that the remedy they sought on behalf of married same-sex couples was state recognition.

The governor and attorney general called for civility among both sides of the social issue going forward.

"It's time for people on both sides of the issue to come together now and heal any rifts that occurred," Reyes said. "We are all Utahns and I hope we will all exercise a great deal of kindness, caring and understanding."

As she held her wife Laurie Wood's hand, Kody Partridge echoed that call.

"This is a time to celebrate, to reach out to families, to show love and respect and continue the discussion," Partridge said. "I don't think we have to have anything but love and respect for each other."

In a statement, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said same-sex marriage would not affect its doctrinal positions or practices, but "the courts have spoken."

Read the LDS Church's statement here:

The succession of federal court decisions in recent months, culminating in today’s announcement by the Supreme Court, will have no effect on the doctrinal position or practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is that only marriage between a man and a woman is acceptable to God. In prizing freedom of conscience and Constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religion, we will continue to teach that standard and uphold it in our religious practices.

Nevertheless, respectful coexistence is possible with those with differing values. As far as the civil law is concerned, the courts have spoken. Church leaders will continue to encourage our people to be persons of good will toward all, rejecting persecution of any kind based on race, ethnicity, religious belief or non-belief, and differences in sexual orientation.

As they left their lawyers' office, Amendment 3 plaintiffs Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity hugged and kissed.

"This is just a big day for us!" he said. "We can finally plan our wedding."

Kate Call, one of the plaintiffs in the Amendment 3 case, told FOX 13 the ruling meant she could make end-of-life decisions with her wife, Karen Archer, who has a terminal illness.

"This is a great relief to us as a couple," Call said. "Because we can now not have uncertainty about what will happen when she or I die."

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF AMENDMENT 3 HERE

22 comments

  • bob

    There. Done. Enough childishness from both sides.

    Where to go from here? Bad idea: Amend the U.S. Constitution. (Only once has it been amended to restrict personal freedom, and that spawned the Mafia.)

    Good idea: Simply remove the word “marriage” from government documents. Recognize “Domestic Partnership Contracts” regardless of who is sleeping with whom, and let society decide who is “married” and who is not.

    In the meantime, no one can force me to refer to a man’s “husband” or a woman’s “wife”. And the world keeps spinning on its axis.

    Move on. Nothing to see here.

  • Anonymouse

    I say it’s a good thing. This case has been a glorious waste of taxpayer money. I don’t know why people get so hung up on “marriage” like the term is inherently sacred, or something invented by their religion. Just let people do what they want to do, and unless it directly affects you, don’t let it bother you. The world spins much nicer, when we aren’t trying to vomit our way of life into our neighbor’s lap.

    • bob

      You keep using that word, but the hate is coming from you and your ilk.

      Look up the word “irony.” It may be instructive.

      • Sydney

        Bob, baby doll, you’re of my ilk. We’re ilk mates. We’re members of the same ilk lodge. We dip our cookies in the same glass of ilk. We aren’t mocking your plan. I’m the only one who likes it.

    • Bobjustdoesn'tgetit

      Now you are free to marry the man of your dreams Bob. You can love, hold, and cherish him until death do you part, and adopt a couple of kids to make it complete.

    • Bob

      Since most posts are anti-LDS then to review a quote from the Prophet Ezra Taft Benson is in order: “Homosexuality is a perversion and it is wrong!” The Supreme Court did not change that!

  • jaymers

    Leave em all be who is it hurting really? The idea of what our state is about? Well newsflash while the lds church is so busy trying to control utah we are all moving forward! I say progress made! Waaahooo! Everyone deserves equal rights.. remember woman trying to vote? Rosa parks? It’s history repeating itself.. they will get their rights we will get to smoke our weed! Everyone just needs to learn from history and get on board cause this train is departing

  • jaymers

    It’s about time.. learn from history. Woman voting.. Rosa parks. Everyone will get their equal rights no matter who agrees! Time to jump on board cause this trai is departing

  • Tammy

    This is not only Utah, there are also people trying to control things in in the other 31 states where it is banned, I’m sure their not mormons, I think this is a great day.

  • Gay Men Coaching (@gaymencoaching)

    In 1954 if each state voted on a unique state constitutional amendment to enforce or vacate the ruling on Brown v. Board of Education, what do you think would be the results of a popular vote?

    In 1967 if each state voted on a unique constitutional amendment to modify their state’s definition of marriage to prohibit interracial marriage, what do you think would be the results of a popular vote?

    vote at http://huff.to/QR4bxl

    Windsor v. United States ruling – a blessing in disguise! The number of times DOMA faces the scrutiny of law = the number of times society must face facts versus myths.

    If Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia faced the same path as Windsor v. United States – I wonder – would we see such racism – today?

  • Jay

    Same-sex marriage is currently banned in 31 states.
    Correction:
    Same-sex marriage is currently banned in 20 states.

  • Howard Lemcke

    What a wonderful and well earned irony that Utah Governor Gary Herbert (as in Kitchen v. Utah Governor Gary Herbert), poster child for the cultural doctrine ‘always hate the other, hurt them whenever possible’, will have his name engraved on the decision that ensures a basic human right to Gary’s most hated group of others

  • Trish Ramirez

    Poor mormans and their impotent gawd – can’t get their dude into the White House, can’t buy away g a y marriage even in their own state, can’t run an effective theocracy in the 21st century. Maybe soon they’ll ALL be down at Jeff’s compound in the Texas and leave those of us trying to have a civil society alone.

  • J

    Ah yes, another “we hate the mormons” set of comments, completely ignoring the fact that there are other states opposing this as well….lovely blinders…I must say, I certainly hope that the “Lets get rid of the constitutional right to bear arms” gets as much media coverage and public outrage as this does. After all, it is a constitutional right being infringed upon. Or, I wonder if issues of “morality” are the only things that are outcry worthy?

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