A federal judge in Utah Friday struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, saying the law violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process. "The state's current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason," wrote U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby. "Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional."
When it comes to marriage equality, Utah isn't just another "red" state. Rather, the Beehive State opposes equal marriage rights with an intensity unseen in most of the country.
And with this in mind, this afternoon's federal district court ruling in Utah is going to cause quite a stir.
The AP report added that the court found Utah's ban, approved by state voters in 2004, violates gay and lesbian couples' rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
The full ruling is online here.
For what it's worth, Judge Shelby is an Obama appointee, offering another reminder as to why fights over judicial nominees are so important.
So what happens now in Utah? One assumes the state will appeal the ruling to the 10th Circuit, rather than allowing itself to become the 18th state to embrace marriage equality. In the meantime, my colleague Laura Conaway alerted me to the Twitter feed of a Salt Lake City writer who is, literally as I type, trying to marry his same-sex partner, taking advantage of the federal court ruling.