Update to my column on New Mexico’s ruling for same-sex marriage:
A federal judge has ruled Utah’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, citing, in a delicious bit of irony, Antonin Scalia.
Yes, Utah, of all places, is now No. 18 (if the ruling holds) in the countdown of states permitting gay marriage. And Colorado is nowhere. What are the odds?
The big question, though, is not what this means for Scalia (who predicted this in his dissent on DOMA), but what it might mean for same-sex marriage in Colorado. We’ve also got a lawsuit in place, but gay-rights activists have been worried, to say the least, about taking the case before the conservative 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
That is where the Utah case is headed. The state attorney general announced he is appealing the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby. Meanwhile, marriage licenses are being handed out to gay Utah couples.
In a 53-page ruling, Shelby cited the 14th Amendment and wrote: “These rights would be meaningless if the Constitution did not also prevent the government from interfering with the intensely personal choices an individual makes when that person decides to make a solemn commitment to another human being.”
It seems like a reasonable argument. Like Utah, Colorado has passed a marriage-defining amendment that barred same-sex unions. The Colorado legislature did go on to pass civil unions, which, as I wrote, might as well be called same-sex purgatory.
Shelby, an Obama appointee, was confirmed by Congress in September. He has made a quick impression in Utah, where two-thirds of the voters approved the anti-gay-marriage amendment in 2004. The Colorado amendment passed in 2006 with 53 percent of the vote. Polls in Colorado now show strong support for gay marriage. Polls in Utah have definitely not.
And yet, shockingly, Utah moves up in the standings to No. 18. And Colorado is out of the playoff picture. Someone should be embarrassed. Or fired.