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Jesse Jackman Headshot

Utah: 18th in the Nation but the Last One I Expected

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Last Friday, Utah became the 18th state in the Union to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Wow. It's probably the last place in America I would have expected to do that. When I found out, I cried tears of joy.

As I was reading the Boston Globe article on this, I had a feeling it wouldn't be long until I saw the phrase "activist judge." And then came paragraph eight:

I am very disappointed an activist federal judge is attempting to override the will of the people of Utah. I am working with my legal counsel and the acting attorney general to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah. -- [Republican Gov. Gary] Herbert

Why do I always find the right wing so... predictable?

Also, the rush to obtain marriage licenses reminded to me of the rush to get off another play in American football before the other team can throw the challenge flag... and we did. We got the play off, just like what happened in California when thousands of gays and lesbians tied the knot before Proposition 8 passed.

2013-12-23-SaltLakeCityCountyBuilding.jpgI'm certainly no law expert — this falls under the "What Do I Know, I'm Just A Dumb Porn Star" category — but the moment the first ceremony was performed, new rights were available to any gay Utah couples who chose to marry... and dozens of couples have already claimed those rights. If a stay is ordered by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (which, by the way, currently consists of five Democrat-appointed judges and five Republican-appointed judges, with the chief judge being a Clinton appointee) and new marriages are halted, wouldn't that violate the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause? It seems to me that you'd then have two classes of gay couples in the state, those have been enjoying marriage benefits and protections, and those who haven't (and can't). While it's possible, I guess, that the state could work to take away rights already granted legally, I think it would be a long uphill battle. Existing marriages would stand, this would go to the Supreme Court as a 14th Amendment case, and any circuit-level appeal that might have succeeded would be overturned.

To wit: In August 2010, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that California's Proposition 8 was unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment, since it purported to re-remove rights from a disfavored class. Maybe I'm just an idealistic Dumb Porn Star, but it seems to me that the same thing is happening in Utah. There's no turning back now. And yet I keep asking myself why some people continue to resist the inexorable march of freedom.

Finally, on another note, check out Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity, two of the plaintiffs who sued for the right to marry. So cute!


(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

UPDATE: The 10th Circuit has rejected the Utah Attorney General's request for an emergency stay of last Friday's ruling. It has begun.