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Both sides file arguments in Utah marriage equality case

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Utah state sealAttorneys for the state of Utah and for three same-sex couples challenging the state’s marriage equality ban filed motions with a district court on Friday making their claims in advance of a summary judgment hearing on December 4.

Unsurprisingly, both parties to the case made familiar arguments in their filings.  “The right to choose one’s marriage partner is the very essence of the kind of decision our culture recognizes as personal and important,” the plaintiffs told the court.  In their filing, they asserted that the state had failed to show how Amendment 3, the ban, is narrowly tailored to advance a compelling government interest; to the contrary, they argued, the ban was based upon a belief that homosexuality is immoral and less than heterosexuality.

“The state has not identified a single harm that it, or anyone else, would suffer as a result of allowing plaintiffs to exercise their constitutionally protected autonomy to choose a marriage partner of the same sex,” they wrote.

Utah, on the other hand, relied primarily on the well-worn argument that same sex couples cannot procreate naturally.  “Same-sex couples, who cannot procreate, do not promote the state’s interests in responsible procreation (regardless of whether they harm it),” the state argued, although that final parenthetical is an interesting admission to the fact that the courts have not been very receptive to the idea that same-sex couples actively harm opposite-sex couples’ procreation, an argument put forward by the ballot proponents of Proposition 8.

The case, Utah wrote, is “really about who decides, not who is right in this important policy debate.”   The state also argued that Amendment 3 is not discriminatory because “neither a man nor a woman may marry a person of the same sex.”

After the hearing on December 4, Judge Robert Shelby, an Obama appointee, will either issue a summary judgment on the merits or will proceed to a full trial like the one in the Prop 8 case.

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