Continued from page 1

A hearing has been set for April 10 in Denver.

The court will then decide if it agrees with a federal judge in Utah who in mid-December overturned the 2004-voter passed ban, saying it violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. The appeals court also is reviewing a similar decision about Oklahoma’s ban, and a hearing on that case has been set for April 17.

The arguments in support of Utah’s gay-marriage ban, passed by two-thirds of voters in 2004, trickled in Monday.

Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Carolina filed a brief that said same-sex marriage is not part of the country’s roots and traditions.

“Traditional marriage is too deeply imbedded in our laws, history and traditions for a court to hold that more recent state constitutional enactment of that definition is illegitimate or irrational,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller wrote.

The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy argued in court papers submitted Monday that the federal government doesn’t have the right to tell states how to regulate marriage. Others weighing include college professors offering their opinion on whether the U.S. Constitution grants gays and lesbians the right to marry.

The conservative Sutherland Institute of Utah argued in its brief that families led by mothers and fathers are an integral part of “ordered liberty” that allows children to be raised with “social constraint” and “moral character.”

The members of religious coalition said in their paper they have unequaled practical experience that offers proof of the benefits from mother-father parenting. On the flip side, the coalition says, “we deal daily with the devastating effects of out-of-wedlock births, failed marriages, and the general decline of the venerable husband-wife marriage institution.”

The actions of the Utah-based Mormon church have been closely watched since the surprise ruling from the federal judge on Dec. 20.

The faith’s stance on homosexuality has softened considerably since it was one of the leading forces behind California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage.

A new website launched last year encouraged more compassion toward gays, imploring them to stay in the faith and clarifying that church leaders no longer “necessarily advise” gays to marry people of the opposite sex in what used to be a widely practiced Mormon workaround for homosexuality.

Also last year, church leaders backed the Boy Scouts’ policy allowing gays in the ranks. Some gay Mormons who left or were forced out of the church say they are now being welcomed back - even though they remain in same-sex relationships.

But the church has left little doubt how it feels about same-sex marriage in the last month.

As hundreds of gay and lesbian couples married in Utah after that ruling, the church told local leaders that same-sex wedding ceremonies and receptions were prohibited in their churches. That same day, church leaders reminded members that civil law or trends in society cannot change the “moral law that God has established.”