Utah appeals marriage ruling to the Supreme Court

[dropcap]U[/dropcap]TAH’s attorney general today filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court appealing the ruling delivered in June by a federal court in Denver striking down that state’s gay marriage ban. Court watchers agreed the country’s High Court likely would find the Utah case suitable to hear, announce a decision by the end of the year to review it and issue a ruling on gay marriage by the end of next summer.

In a statement, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes underlined his desire for a quick resolution on the matter, pointing to the frustration the legal battle waged over the ban has caused this year. He earlier conceded that opinions differ on the ban even among his staff.

“We recognize this litigation has caused uncertainty and disruption and have accordingly tried to expedite its resolution as quickly as possible by filing our petition a full month-and-a-half before its September 23rd due date,” Reyes said in the statement.

“Our internal team of attorneys have diverse personal beliefs about the issues in question, but unite in their dedication to seek final clarity and uphold Utah law,” he said in July.

Reyes is a Republican and he has followed in a pattern set by Republican attorneys general around the country, including John Suthers here in Colorado, in appealing rulings against marriage bans repeatedly, in lower courts and higher courts, seeking “final clarity,” as Reyes put it.

In explaining his decision to appeal the Tenth Circuit ruling, Reyes echoed arguments made by Suthers over the last few months as he has battled three court cases in Colorado.

“My responsibility is to defend the State Constitution and its amendments as Utah citizens have enacted them,” Reyes said.

Democratic attorneys general, on the other hand, like Kentucky’s Jack Conway and North Carolina’s Roy Cooper, have argued that the writing is on the wall, that defenders of state marriage bans have lost 35 cases in a row and that judges at all levels have made it clear the U.S. Constitution trumps state constitutions in matters of individual equal protection and fundamental rights.

Attorneys general have made “almost every possible legal argument” and that the courts “have rejected them each and every time,” he said. “It’s time for North Carolina to stop making them.”

Marc Solomon, national director of Freedom to Marry, the nation’s top pro-gay marriage group, celebrated the news from Utah.

“Every day, hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples and their children are suffering the tangible harms of not being free to marry. The sting of discrimination and the crazy quilt of marriage laws are not just wrong but unconstitutional. The momentum is clear, the hardships of denial are real, and the country is ready for the High Court to act.”

[ Image: by Kelly Kline. ]