Don’t look now, gay marriage just got legalized in Utah!

America’s capital of homophobia just got a wee bit gayer today as Utah – yes, Utah – ushered in gay marriages when no one was really looking,

In an unexpected decision, a federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on gay marriages, immediately legalizing gay marriages in the state. This makes Utah, at least for now, the 18th state to legalize gay nuptials.

Utah (Republican) state leaders were not pleased.

Utah is of course also home to the virulently homophobic activist religion, Mormonism, which was single-handedly responsible for killing gay marriage in California back in 2008, only to see their $20 million go to naught as we got it back anyway. Heh.  The Mormons are reportedly not pleased either – but when are they?

The AP reports that it will take a few days for a judge to review the state’s request for an immediate stay on the marriages.

And in the meantime, they’re getting married, in droves.

Regardless of whether the appeals court stays the ruling legalizing marriages, gay couples have already gotten married, and that, my friends, is one big legal nightmare for the homophobes.





(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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83 Responses to “Don’t look now, gay marriage just got legalized in Utah!”

  1. Nathanael says:

    Oh, oh, wait, I see you’re referring to the throwing-out of the statutes against living-as-if-polygamous, which happened recently.

    Good to see those thrown out, on general “government out of the bedroom” principles.

  2. Nathanael says:

    Error correction: the polygamy laws were completely constitutional, and everyone agreed that they were. However, the federal government didn’t want to admit Utah as a state unless it changed those laws — Utah Territory changed the laws in order to get admitted as a state, which is a matter of discretion on the part of Congress.

  3. It would be nice to wash some of the red out of Pennsylvania. Yes, should Corbett break the streak of two-term governors of alternating parties since the change in the constitution from 1968, it would indeed change the chances. (I am counting Ridge and Schweiker as one.)

  4. My remarks have been strictly about the Pennsylvania constitution, which was last changed in 1968, and how the legislature and the courts would interpret it. Should it become a federal issue, then the obvious route of attack is the “equal protection of the laws” in the Fourteenth. If so, then everything else becomes moot, not only for Pennsylvania, but also for the other 31 states that have either outlawed gay marriage or have amended their constitution to exclude it, or both. At the time, Pennsylvania has only a statutory ban and does not recognize it from other states.

  5. UncleBucky says:

    John, Mormons are NEVER happy except when money, power and control go into their hands.

    My goal this year (New Year’s Resolution or whatever) is to do what I can to to make Mormons VERY UNHAPPY. So unhappy, in fact, that their eyes bulge out and they stop moving. Ugh.

  6. rmthunter says:

    If it’s a case in federal court on federal constitutional grounds, it doesn’t matter — the federal constitution trumps state constitutions.

  7. BeccaM says:

    Yep. As with the 13k California married same-sex couples before Prop 8, what’s happening is each day that passes, there are more Utah couples with standing to challenge why the state won’t recognize — and is indeed trying to annul — their legally registered marriages.

    It’s delicious.

  8. FLL says:

    This may be the last nail in the coffin for Utah’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Why were the Utah governor and attorney general in such a desperate rush to get a stay? First, the more same-sex couples that marry, the more difficult it will be for any higher court to uphold the constitutional ban. Second, the more time that passes without having issued a stay, the less likely it will be for any higher court to issue a stay. To put it another way, Utah’s constitutional ban is in a death spiral. For the anti-equality side in Utah, time is their enemy, and the predictable hysterics tomorrow morning will be humorous but not pretty.

  9. Ninong says:

    Maybe the angel Moroni will beam all the Mormons up to Kolob, sort of like a Mormon rapture. Take Mitt Romney first.

  10. Ninong says:

    The Mormons are about to find out that just as their polygamy laws were unconstitutional so are their laws denying some people equality. The 14th Amendment trumps any state constitution. Looks like we’re headed for full marriage equality nationwide faster than I would have imagined just a few years ago.

  11. BeccaM says:

    It would appear that the 10th Circuit judges are familiar with humor as well.

    The 10th Circuit has denied the Utah acting attorney general’s request for an emergency stay of the Federal district court judge’s ruling because — get this — there is a motion for a stay pending appeal before Federal Judge Shelby, which hasn’t been heard yet. And so the 10th Circuit is essentially saying they can’t and won’t intervene in the case until an actual appeal has been brought before them.

    Which can’t happen until Shelby gets around to having the hearing on the state’s motions to reconsider and for a stay pending appeal.

    Somehow, I suspect Shelby won’t be in any particular hurry…

  12. Dakotahgeo says:

    Methinks NOM had better not taken on any more Klingons until they get their own ship upright! $1M in the hole and they’re trying to influence other groups? 60K+ members does NOT 1M Moms make.

  13. Dakotahgeo says:

    Delicious! Thanks for the good news!

  14. Dakotahgeo says:

    Congratulations, Utah Marriage Equality couples! Best wishes and Happy Lives together! I can hear the paint peeling in the Great Wizard of Oz’s Temple… please, Mr. Moron/i, not so many wrong notes on your trumpet up there. It’s distracting!
    Dakotahgeo, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain.

  15. MyrddinWilt says:

    Its only a preliminary ruling so far…

  16. Jameika says:

    Well, to be fair, the Middle East has been a trade crossroads for quite a long time in human settlement. As an Arab born with blond hair, I’d like to point out that there is all kinds of DNA there. Having said that, though, the chances are rather slim. Of course, the ultimate question in that issue is: who cares?

  17. NedFlaherty says:

    Nope, not “several days” at all. It was only several hours before UT filed its appeal, and its motion to halt marriages during the appeal. But that’s OK. The sooner they get the next circus underway, the sooner they get defeated.

  18. Rev. M. Vernon Hunt says:

    However the issue is decided, via voters, legislatures, or the courts, the haters will scream that we should let the others decide instead. That’s just how they are.

  19. UncleBucky says:

    Hah. Well, now Utah will fall into a crack in the Earth. {snicker}

    18. What state will be #19? :)

  20. vickif says:

    May you have many more.

  21. owen says:

    stay positive

  22. Thom Allen says:

    From the way things look, Tom Corbett is going to have a really tough time getting reelected. His approval rating continues to tank and any one of a number of possible Democratic challengers is out polling him. Getting him out is a start.

    And State Rep. Brian Sims seems to be pretty impressive not just in the Philadelphia area, but in other areas of the state. He seems to be doing a good job of rallying fellow Dems toward some more progressive actions.

  23. Daddy Bear says:

    A good close second…

  24. As previously noted, it’s the suburban and urban areas versus the “te” , a streak of reactionary counties across and between Erie and Scranton and down the center of the state, with a slight bump over State College, and into Amish country. What I was thinking is it would be easier to overrule a law as unconstitutional without its being an amendment to the constitution.

  25. Tor says:

    Did you read the article at Box Turtle Bulletin? Delicious.

  26. Monoceros Forth says:

    Not to mention that he was supposed to have been a tradesman for most of his adult life. I don’t think he’d look like he bathed in double cream every night.

    I guess I’ve asked this before, if only for rhetorical effect, but I am genuinely curious: have any of our evangelical nuts ever tried to explain why their Jesus looks like a delicate, blonde, and very white hair-metal band reject?

  27. The_Fixer says:

    But he did have an impeccably groomed beard and well-styled rock-star hair.

    I bet he would have been a killer guitarist, too.

  28. StevesWeb says:

    Has Antonin Scalia just become the patron saint of equal rights? That would possibly be ironic. A little.

  29. BeccaM says:

    Thanks — it’ll actually be filled with Havarti, Brie, chocolate, wine and movies. ;-)

  30. BeccaM says:

    Given how in the Utah ruling Shelby also cited Shelby’s dissents? I suspect the timing is no accident.

  31. FLL says:

    The “Anglo-Saxon Jesus,” which is ubiquitous among white American Christians. If other secular people are like me, they just find it amusing since the historical Jesus (assuming there was one) was Middle Eastern, and Middle Eastern people of ancient times most definitely did not have light brown or dishwater blond hair, light colored eyes and pale skin.

  32. BeccaM says:

    Pennsylvania is where I was born and grew up. It used to be a reliably Blue state for the most part. However, the declining influence of the urban union types was offset by the increasing influence of the rural conservatives, and over the last two census cycles, they rammed through unbelievably GOP-favoring partisan gerrymandering.

    So despite being a blue state by population — just witness the vote in the presidential elections — PA nevertheless has a far more Republican-biased state legislature and House delegation than a fair vote would result in. The length of time the GOPers have been in control has also allowed them to infest the state judicial system from top to bottom.

    I’m not saying it’s impossible. But as in many GOP-controlled states now (and to mix a metaphor), it’s a steep uphill climb for progressive causes because the Republicans have stacked the deck against it.

  33. BeccaM says:

    Sooner or later we are going to get a federal court overturning a state constitutional ban.

    That’s exactly what happened in Utah. In fact, on the map here — — it shows Utah as having the full on belt-and-suspenders approach to their anti-gay marriage ban, with both their state Constitution and laws in place.

  34. BeccaM says:

    With quotes from Scalia’s dissent and releasing this ruling yesterday, just before the biggest holiday week of the year, I suspect Judge Shelby is no stranger to snark. As well as knowing the most vulnerable spots of the legal machinery into which to lob his sabots.

  35. ArthurH says:

    This ruling comes shortly after a similar court ruling that threw out much of Utah’s legal statutes on polygamy. The lawsuit was funded by cable TV channels running reality shows about polygamists, especially from Kody on “Sister Wives.” He targeted all the take to lawyers while the program depicted him sitting home playing video games and otherwise avoiding all work and responsibility while his wives worked to bring home the bread.

  36. FLL says:

    I had no idea how much use Judge Shelby made of Antonin Scalia’s dissents in the Windsor case and the Prop 8 case. From Scalia’s dissent in the Windsor case:

    In my opinion, however, the view that this Court will take of state prohibition of same-sex marriage is indicated beyond mistaking by today’s opinion. As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion … is that DOMA is motivated by ‘bare … desire to harm’ couples in
    same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.

    From Shelby’s ruling in Utah:

    The court agrees with Justice Scalia’s interpretation of Windsor and finds that the important federalism concerns at issue here are nevertheless insufficient to save a state-law prohibition that denies the Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection under
    the law…The court therefore agrees with the portion of Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Lawrence in which Justice Scalia stated that the Court’s reasoning logically extends to protect an individual’s right to marry a person of the same sex.

    Scalia, as the unwitting truth-teller, has turned out to be very useful in speeding up the process of marriage equality nationwide since his dissenting opinions are being used to strike down the most difficult obstacle of all: state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. We’ve always known that Scalia was a friend to homophobes, but he is now giving homophobes the tough love that they need to forget about stopping marriage equality and move on with their lives. If Brian Brown asked Justice Scalia, “Do I look fat in this dress?” Scalia would say, “Yes.” If Brian Brown asked Justice Scalia, “Does the Windsor case make nationwide marriage equality inevitable within a very short space of time?” Scalia would say, “Yes.” Answering those two questions in that way is the mark of a true friend. As I think I’ve mentioned before, who else but a real friend would tell you the whole rotten truth?

  37. BlueIdaho says:

    The mormons and fundies are going beserk both in Utah and here in Idaho. These two states are where all the haters thought they could move to and not be bothered by the pesky gays. Btw, Idaho has a similar case working its way through the courts. It won’t be long now!

  38. emjayay says:

    See??!!! Definitely northern European male type white guy.

  39. mikey says:

    I look at it as a double win. If Mormons think for a second, this opens up a really fair discussion on polygamy. After all you can’t fight for something like that while fighting to deny others just basic marriage.

  40. emjayay says:

    With your birthday and Christmas so close together, we just got you one gift for both!”

  41. FLL says:

    Two states in one week. Happy birthday!

  42. Whitewitch says:

    Happy Birthday Monoceros….may you have many more years of happiness and rabble rousing!!!

  43. Bomer says:

    Happy Birthday!

  44. Thom Allen says:

    How odd. I don’t see any dogs or goats in those pictures getting licenses to marry humans. A quick check of today’s Utah’s divorce filings doesn’t show a massive uptick in straight couples divorcing. No Divine lightning bolts got hurled. I guess frothy and the christianist right lost again. frothy will be furious as soon a someone can interrupt his viewing of gay butt sex porno films to let him know.

  45. Thom Allen says:

    Happy Birthday! Why a big fight?

  46. Thom Allen says:

    Congratulations, especially now that you’re “legal!”

  47. Thom Allen says:

    I was thinking the same thing (1-3). I’m wondering if Judge Shelby didn’t deliberately issue his decision on just this date and time just to make things much more difficult for Utah to do anything other than suck it up for a week or so.

  48. Thom Allen says:

    How about a petition for Duck Dynasty to apologize to A & E and every non-rabid human in the world?

  49. Thom Allen says:

    Mormen and Morwomen?

  50. MyrddinWilt says:

    See, NOM was right, straights can’t get married in Utah now because the lines at the registry office are too long because of all the gays getting married!

    We are getting to the point where the only states without marriage equality are the ones with state constitutional bans. But the haters are going to continue to say let the states decide and let voters decide when they have made it so that it takes a supermajority to make a change. The haters are the ones that have stopped the voters deciding through the normal process.

    Sooner or later we are going to get a federal court overturning a state constitutional ban. And once that happens it is game over for the haters. Even the GOP isn’t fully on their wagon any more. They know hate costs them at the polls. But they will use hate to fleece the rubes for campaign contributions.

  51. heimaey says:

    In a state that has a high rate of single men due to polygamy, they should be happy all these boys they kick out of their compounds can now marry each other. Problem solved.

  52. wayne says:

    To Justice Scalia; Thanks for setting out you rationale and prediction of the Majority Windsor opinion. As you can see, it was followed carefully by a federal district judge. So, here comes that “other shoe”.

  53. wayne says:

    Even if SCOTUS had wanted to “reach the merits” of Prop 8, it could not do so under existing legal precepts, because there was a defect in the parties and therefore, there was no “justiciable issue or controversy” presented to the Court.

  54. rmthunter says:

    And I love the irony of Shelby relying so heavily on Scalia’s dissents to support his reasoning.

  55. rmthunter says:

    I think the justices used the standing issue as their escape hatch. They didn’t really want to hear the case, which as I recall hinged on technicalities to begin with. This one, and the New Mexico decision, lay out the important constitutional issues very clearly, and Judge Shelby, in his opinion, did a definitive job of demolishing the state’s arguments, which were nothing more than NOM’s talking points.

  56. Daddy Bear says:

    May your day be filled with love and peace…

  57. Indigo says:

    Happy Birthday!

  58. Happy Yule! The red shows the sungod has been reborn, the green the continuity of life, and the wreath the circle of rebirths. The days no longer wane, it’s the darkest before dawn. This ruling could not have come at a better time of the year.

  59. Normally a court will rule on only one issue, so the decision was simply the plaintiffs had no standing. However, the decision also ended the issue. What we really need is not more states, but more justices to balance the Supreme Court!

  60. When I found out about New Mexico, I did some research. My home state of Pennsylvania seemed to be next. Of the three states that forbid same-sex marriage without a constitutional ban, only Pennsylvania is a blue state. Furthermore, there is a challenge to that law in federal courts. The other two are ironically Ryan White’s Indiana and our little buddy Matthew Wayne Shepard’s Wyoming. So much for predictions! May the dam now break on the other 32 states.

  61. karmanot says:

    Happy Birthday MF!

  62. karmanot says:

    Congratulations you two! Happy Aniversary

  63. karmanot says:

    You go Dula! :-)

  64. dula says:

    It’s beautiful when Mormen and more women are allowed to marry. My dream wedding once was to skate down the aisle while the Ice Vanities did their thing. I don’t think it’s too late.

  65. FLL says:

    Congratulations to you both. That’s kind of fun that your anniversary is on the Winter Solstice. Happy Solstice to the two of you and the folks in New Mexico.

  66. benb says:

    The NOM website headlines with a petition drive for A&E for an apology to the Duck Dynasty guy.

  67. Mighty says:

    Texas… I want Texas…. its where I live and while I am happy for everyone else… I really would like to marry my partner.

  68. BeccaM says:

    Happy Birthday!

  69. BeccaM says:

    Oh and my predictions:

    New Mexico: Come January, Snake-handling Senator Bill Sharer will attempt to pass his state constitutional amendment, but it won’t succeed in the Dem-controlled NM legislature. There’ll probably be a petition, too — but we don’t have state referendums like that.

    Utah: Just my guess, but with the Christmas holiday, I’m betting their hobbled state att’y general’s office doesn’t get its act together and file their appeal and request for emergency stay until after New Years, but I could be wrong. In the meantime, there’ll soon be several hundred newly married Utahn gay and lesbian couples with standing to challenge why their marriages should be upheld.

  70. Monoceros Forth says:

    For me it’s a little birthday gift (20 Dec is indeed my birthday.) This is going to lead to such a big fight, though…

  71. BeccaM says:

    And as I’ve mentioned, it’s our 15th anniversary tomorrow. We have some celebrations planned for sure.

  72. FLL says:

    So the opponents of marriage equality in Utah and New Mexico won’t be able to even get in gear until after the holidays, and by then it will be water under the bridge. Too bad for them. They’ll just have to say “If you can’t lick’em join’em” because tomorrow night is the yearly pagan Winter Solstice shindig. Any forest setting will do, although I’m sure the painted deserts of the Western states would function just as well.

  73. BeccaM says:

    For the homophobes, this could not have come with worse possible timing:

    (1) It’s Friday.
    (2) It’s Dec 20th, the day when lots of folks were planning on heading home and not dealing with work for most of at least a week (including moi)
    (3) For sure, the Federal courts, esp. the Circuit Courts, would’ve been planning on no more than a light schedule next week, as would the Utah State gov’t offices.
    (4) The former Utah Attorney General, whose job it would be to file for an emergency appeal and stay resigned not that long ago under a cloud of corruption, and the guy currently holding the office was intended only as a seat warmer until the Utah governor could appoint a permanent replacement after the holidays.

    And they have a county clerk in the most populated county in Utah — the one with Salt Lake City in it — perfectly willing to say, “Sure! Let’s get some marriages going here!”

    Latest word I’ve been able to find is there may be “several days” before the interim state att’y general will be able to file the appeal they say they will.

  74. The_Fixer says:


    Tonight they’re singin’ the blues in the tabernacle. Poor dears.

  75. FLL says:

    Like this?

  76. FLL says:

    So the U.S. Supreme Court punted on Prop 8 last summer. But why? If marriage isn’t a basic right, then the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is hollow and meaningless. I guess SCOTUS needs to see a few more states on board before they rule in favor of marriage equality. After the ballot initiatives of November, 2014, half the states in the Union will most likely be on board. What more does SCOTUS need? Does someone at International House of Pancakes have to look down at his waffles and see the image of Jesus with an equal sign on his forehead?

  77. Max_1 says:


  78. Jim Olson says:

    Huh. Utah.

  79. zerosumgame0005 says:

    that darned Constitution! Always getting in the way of hate!

  80. Bookbinder says:

    Holy Shit! Never in my wildest did I imagine….so soon.

  81. Ninja0980 says:

    Scalia said this would happen and he was right. That DOMA ruling is far more important then people realize for the state bans,it really is.

  82. Indigo says:

    It’s a good thing.

  83. LAMBERTLUST says:

    this is so incredible!!! :)

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