National civil rights attorney joins Utah team fighting for same-sex marriage rights

The woman referred to by US Rep. Barney Frank as “our Thurgood Marshall” for her work that led Massachusetts to become the first state to legalize same-sex marriage has joined the legal team fighting Utah’s Amendment 3.

Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, joined the growing team of lawyers defending three Utah couples. GLAD’s legal director Gary Buseck and others at the organization will join as well.

Eleven state constitutional amendments were put on the ballot the year after Bonauto successfully argued the Massachusetts case, including Utah’s Amendment 3. All passed.

Utah’s case, if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear it, could be the one that brings same-sex marriage to the nation.

The Salt Lake law firm of Magleby & Greenwood was chosen by Restore Our Humanity to lead the three Utah plaintiffs’ case through the U.S. District Court. The decision by District Judge Robert Shelby became the first to declare anti-marriage equality laws as against the U.S. Constitution.

National Center for Lesbian Rights joined the case in January, after the ruling, and former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal joined last month.

GLAD participated in the Windsor case before the Supreme Court.

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson said that the already stellar legal team is “going all-star” by adding the GLAD lawyers.

Bonauto believes that the U.S. Supreme Court should take Utah’s case over any of the others coming before it.

“While it’s not the only one, Utah’s case is a good vehicle for the court to take,” Buseck said. “We’ve reached that point where the court knows that soon, it’s going to be time for them to finally answer this question. We’re ready. And I’m of the belief that they’re ready, too. It’s just a matter of waiting for them to do it.”

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