Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Supreme Court ruling could result in marriage equality for Utah

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights and family law have only recently become intrinsically connected for many Americans. Setting the stage for such a connection has been an arduous task rife with joy, setbacks and disappointments. The turning point in the fight for equal rights came not with multiple states legalizing LGBT marriages but when the Supreme Court of the United States struck down key sections of the Defense of Marriage Act. The ramifications of the ruling have just started to reverberate across the country.

In 2004 the state of Utah passed a constitutional amendment (Amendment 3), which defined marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman. That definition of marriage is likely to soon change in Utah and the few states that successfully passed constitutional amendments restricting marriage to man and woman. In Utah, Amendment 3 has formed the basis of rules that have denied same-sex couples a multitude of rights from the ability to jointly adopt children they are raising to enjoying the benefits associated with a civil marriage. The striking down of DOMA will likely spell the end of Utah's Amendment 3.

A federal court case seeking to invalid Utah's Amendment 3 may be close to ending, as a motion for summary judgment was recently filed in the case. The case seeks to do away with Utah's law using the same logic that helped invalidate portions of DOMA. Because lower courts must give deference to rulings made by the Supreme Court it is likely the state's amendment will be found to be unconstitutional.

The law is a fluid entity able to change as society changes. As changes continue to occur in Utah, the U.S. and the world, the law will continue to adapt to the new world.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, "Marriage equality will arrive in Utah soon," Paul C. Burke, Oct. 12, 2013

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