In court Monday, Utah lawyer Philip Lott repeated the words “chaotic situation” to describe what has happened in the state since clerks started allowing gay weddings. He urged the judge to “take a more orderly approach than the current frenzy.”
“Utah should be allowed to follow its democratically chosen definition of marriage,” he said of the 2004 gay marriage ban.
In explaining his decision, Shelby said the state made basically the same arguments he had already rejected.
Adding to the chaos is the fact that Utah Attorney General John Swallow stepped down about a month ago amid a scandal involving allegations of bribery and offering businessmen protection in return for favors. The state has been relying on an acting attorney general, and Gov. Gary Herbert appointed a replacement Monday who will serve until a special election next year.
Peggy Tomsic, the lawyer for the same-sex couples who brought the case, called gay marriage the civil rights movement of this generation and said it was the new law of the land in Utah.
“The cloud of confusion that the state talks about is only their minds,” she said.
Shelby said in Friday’s ruling that the constitutional amendment that Utah voters approved violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. He said the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.
Legal scholars speculate that the case could someday be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court if the justices decide they want to weigh in on whether state same-sex marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution.
Tobias said that’s a real possibility, but far from imminent. It will depend on what the appeals court decides and what happens with other court challenges in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Virginia, he said.