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Utah’s constitutional marriage equality ban to face federal court challenge

Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

By Jacob Combs

Restore Our Humanity, a newly-formed LGBT rights organization, announced yesterday in Salt Lake City that it will file a federal lawsuit challenging Utah’s Constitutional Amendment 3, the state’s voter-approved marriage equality ban that passed during the 2004 election, Fox 13 Salt Lake City reported.

During the press conference, Matt Spencer, the communication director for Restore Our Humanity, said that the group has been working “behind the scenes” for some time and has now decided to make its plans public.  Spencer also explained that the organization will detail its legal argument at a later date, but for now is focusing on raising awareness and developing a public profile.

“Opinions have been changing dramatically since 2004, and you can see it all throughout the country,” Spencer said during the press conference. “Utah, sometimes we’re a little behind the game when it comes to, you know, where the rest of the country is at, but I think that you can see a fundamental shift happening, and now is the time to really address this.”

Amendment 3 was approved by Utah voters during the 2004 election by a margin of almost 66 percent to 33 percent, despite arguments by opponents of the measure that language in the amendment which read that “No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect” could have unintended consequences, even for opposite-sex couples.

Despite this language, the Salt Lake County Council approved domestic partnerships in 2005.  Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson also signed an executive order in 2005 extending some benefits (including health insurance) to city employees and their same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partners.  A year later, a state court judge ruled that such plans did not violates the Utah Constitution.

In 2009, then-Governor Jon Huntsman expressed a belief that Amendment 3 did not explicitly ban civil unions in Utah, saying, “I think that ultimately could be a court case and that might be adjudicated in court over time if it ever gets to that level. But that wasn’t clear.”

On April 7, Restore Our Humanity will hold a black-tie fundraiser in Salt Lake City to raise funds for its legal campaign.

1 Comment

  • 1. Utah, USA: New Group to C&hellip  |  March 20, 2013 at 6:43 am

    […] lawsuit against a state gay marriage ban has sprung up, this time in Utah. Equality on Trial reports: Restore Our Humanity, a newly-formed LGBT rights organization, announced yesterday in Salt Lake […]

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