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After Supreme Court Declines to Hear Appeals, Gay Marriage is Legal Again in Utah

Whittney Evans
Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes address the media after the U.S. Supreme Court Denied to hear the states same-sex marriage appeal.

Same-sex marriage is once again legal in the state of Utah. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday morning it would decline to hear same-sex marriage appeals in five states.

The high court’s refusal to review any of the nation’s gay marriage cases means same-sex couples are free to marry in 11 more states, including Utah. Derek Kitchen is a plaintiff in the case that struck down Utah’s ban. He says families in the 10th circuit, and other states across the country where same-sex marriage bans have fallen, can now plan their lives like every other person in the country.

“We can plan marriages and have children and we can go about our daily lives without worrying about discrimination or about being treated differently by our own state governments,” Kitchen says.

In June, the 10th Circuit Court in Denver upheld a federal district court ruling that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. But 10th Circuit judges stayed the decision anticipating state officials would appeal to the Supreme Court. Just hours after the Supreme Court announced its decision on Monday, 10th Circuit justices issued a mandate for their decision to be recognized and same-sex marriages resumed in Utah.

Peggy Tomsic represents the plaintiffs in the Utah case. She thanked each of them for their friendship and courage, saying what they’ve done is incredible.

“And it started with all of the organizations in Utah and people who have worked hard, but these six plaintiffs were who had the courage to do that,” Tomsic says.

Utah governor Gary Herbert says he’s surprised and disappointed by the news, but he will honor the rulings of the federal courts. Herbert stood by his decision to defend the law and use $600,000 dollars of tax payer money in that effort.

“We’re not making any moral pronouncements here,” Herbert says. “The people of Utah have spoken. They voted to modify the constitution of what we call amendment three and we have an obligation to uphold that.”

The Supreme Court did not issue a statement explaining why the justices refused to review the issue. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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