Wednesday, June 25, 2014

10th Circuit Upholds Ruling Striking Down Utah's Ban On Marriage Equality!

Now, this is a very big deal. The 10th U.S. Circuit has become the first appellate court to uphold one of the very many district court rulings striking down a state's ban on marriage equality. The court heard oral arguments in April. The same panel has a pending ruling in the case of Oklahoma's ban on marriage equality it heard on the same day. The case today is Kitchen v Herbert on appeal from Utah' of the December 20th district court ruling striking down that state's Amendment 3. The 3-judge panel ruled 2-1 in favor of upholding the lower court ruling invalidating Utah's ban on same-sex marriages.

Chris Geidner reports on the case:
In detailing the reasoning, he wrote, “Consistent with our constitutional tradition of recognizing the liberty of those previously excluded, we conclude that plaintiffs possess a fundamental right to marry and to have their marriages recognized.”   
Importantly, however, at the end of the opinion, the court also stated that because the Supreme Court stayed the trial court’s ruling in the Utah case pending the 10th Circuit appeal that it should stay its mandate of the appellate ruling “pending the disposition of any subsequently filed petition for writ of certiorari” to the Supreme Court.
Judge Paul Kelly wrote a 21-page dissent, countering Lucero’s 65-page majority opinion. Judge Jermoe Holmes joined the majority opinion.
The 10th Circuit’s decision, which cites heavily from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, was issued one day before the one-year anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision. 
The lawyer for the Utah same-sex couples who brought the lawsuit, Peggy Tomsic, said in a statement, “Today’s decision by the Tenth Circuit affirms the fundamental principles of equality and fairness and the common humanity of gay and lesbian people. As the Court recognized, these families are part of Utah’s community, and equal protection requires that they be given the same legal protections and respect as other families in this state. The Court’s ruling is a victory not only for the courageous couples who brought this case, but for our entire state and every state within the Tenth Circuit.”
Woo hoo!

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