Same-sex couple wants Utah AG, Health Dept. held in contempt of court

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A legally married same-sex couple is taking the Utah Attorney General and the executive director of the Utah Department of Health to court, demanding to have them held in contempt of court for refusing to issue a birth certificate for their daughter.

FOX 13 was with Kimberly and Amber Leary on April 9 when they sought a birth certificate for their daughter, after a judge had granted their second-parent adoption. The Utah Department of Health refused to provide an amended birth certificate, putting both their names on it.

Shane Marx, an attorney representing the couple, filed an order to show cause in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court, demanding Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Dr. David Patton, the executive director of the Utah Dept. of Health, and State Registrar Janice Houston appear in court "and show cause why they should not be held in contempt for their willful disregard and refusal to obey" a judge's order to issue the birth certificate.

Read the order to show cause here

"The parents are the parents under Utah law," said Clifford Rosky, the chairman of the gay rights group Equality Utah, who was acting as a spokesman for Marx. "They have an adoption, they have a court order say they shall be named on the birth certificate, and the state of Utah is simply defying that court order."

Rosky said the issue affects a number of legally married same-sex couples who were in the midst of the adoptions when the Utah Attorney General's Office got involved.

The Utah Attorney General's Office said it was asked to get involved by judges handling the adoptions and seeking clarity about the state of the law after a federal judge overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

Reyes' office has said that since the U.S. Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages pending the appeal of Amendment 3, the ban on gay marriage is back on the books. They also believe that means they cannot recognize the marriages performed here, nor any second-parent adoptions involving gay or lesbian couples.

In a statement to FOX 13 on Thursday, the Utah Attorney General's Office said it is waiting for the Utah Supreme Court to weigh in.

"The State is not attempting to undo adoptions, restrain custody rights, nor suggest that these families are not serving the best interest of their children. What the State is doing is exercising its right to seek clarification from Utah’s highest court as to whether it can issue amended birth certificates," said Reyes spokeswoman Missy Larsen.

There is no indication that the Utah Supreme Court will even take up the issue. The state's top court has been silent for weeks ever since the attorney general sought an emergency writ on behalf of the Utah Department of Health.

A judge has slated a hearing on the order to show cause on June 16.


  • John

    The state of Utah is doing more harm to these children and families than loving parents ever could. Nice work AG! Hopefully they will soon realize we are no longer in the 19th century and stop spending my tax dollars for personal agendas.

  • Drew Howells

    Can I use that legal maneuver whenever I willfully and knowingly violate a court order, or I am arrested… “I am just waiting for the Utah Supreme Court to weigh in [before I comply with the law]” If the Utah AG can use it, it now has legal precedence right?

    • Trish Ramirez

      The only frivolous lawsuit is the State trying to undo these marriages and families. Utah is NOT going to win this. It won’t happen. Look around the country. The precedent has been set. I hope every single LGBT couple that has been hurt by Utah’s appeal of the District Court’s December decision files for punitive damages, as this appeal was filed for no other reason that to cause deliberate pain and suffering to LGBT persons and families in this state.

      The State of Utah needs to STAND DOWN – this means that the puppet masters (aka the mormon church and their deep pockets and generations of ‘first families’ and political manipulations) need to back the heck up and let this state get in line with the rest of the civilized world with regard to civil rights.

  • Cartman

    The A.G. has no authority to ignore the State Constitution, and the Federal ruling that attempted to overturn the Constitution is stayed pending appeal.

    Sorry, but that’s how it works.

  • reality

    Murky times we live in. Once that guy is allowed to marry his robot, some poor kid is gonna be adopted… The birth certificate is gonna have Joe Smith and an iPad. When polygamy is legalized, some kid is going to have 50 people on his certificate.

    Let’s move on to real news!

  • Picklesdaddy

    As far as I’ve been able to follow, current Utah law states that marriage is between a man and a woman. there was a lawsuit to overturn the law. This lawsuit is currently under a stay pending appeal. The law is not overturned until the appeals process is completed.

    • Bortle

      The problem is that between the ruling and the stay this couple became legally married. The AG does not have the right to ignore that marriage or the ensuing adoption.

  • LavandarPissed

    Throw these nasty, acidic, Christian/Mormon zealots in jail. They’ve intentionally screwed up the lives of the people they’re expected to work for, but did it in a really malicious way. Because they decided to ignore a court order (the flea brained bigot AG and the pious fools in the health department) they’ve impeded a legal adoption, and wildly abused their positions of power. They must pay the maximum penalty under the law for their crime because they committed it out of their diseased Christian/Mormon convictions. They need to be corrected. The state of Utah needs to be corrected.

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