On Nov. 2, 2004, Utah’s constitutional Amendment 3 was passed with the approval of 66 percent of voters. It contains language that legally defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and it negates legal family status to same-sex couples.
Almost nine years later, a landmark case, Kitchen v. Herbert, came before the U.S. District Court. On Dec. 20, 2013, Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down the marriage ban, stating that Amendment 3 was unconstitutional. He further mentioned that the law violated the U.S. Constitution’s right to equal protection and due process.
While the State worked toward getting a motion to stay Judge Shelby’s decision, the word spread that the same-sex marriage ban had been lifted. In other words, same-sex couples could marry. Over a three-week period, there were 1,308 marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples. However, on Jan. 6, 2014, a stay was issued by the United States Supreme Court, pending the appeals process. Most recently, oral arguments were heard at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on April 10, 2014.
Many organizations have filed briefs in favor of the plaintiffs’ case, including political figures, and companies such as Google, Facebook, eBay and Starbucks. Also, several organizations have helped in the fight to gain marriage equality: Restore Our Humanity, Utah Pride Center, Equality Utah, Freedom to Marry, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. This handful of the many supporters the LGBTQ community has benefited from in the ongoing effort to make equality a reality in Utah.