A federal judge in Utah yesterday ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the Constitution, saying the law “conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law.”
To say that the ruling came as a surprise in conservative Utah is an understatement, as the dominant Mormon Church has vigorously opposed marriage equality. LGBT activists were largely expecting Pennsylvania, Ohio, or Nevada to be the next state to allow same-sex marriage. The ruling created quite a frenzy, with same-sex couples in Utah rushing to the Salt Lake City county clerk’s office to obtain marriage licenses.
But a word of caution is warranted. The federal judge’s ruling is not similar to a ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court this week and will likely be repealed. The Governor of Utah, Gary R. Herbert, noted his disappointment at the ruling and said he was working with his legal counsel and the acting attorney general “to determine the best course to defend traditional marriage within the borders of Utah.” If the ruling is appealed, the status of those newly minted marriages may come into question, although if history has taught us anything from the experience in California, marriage equality will likely become the law of the land in Utah.