Late last night, the state of Utah filed its opening arguments in its appeal of District Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling that the state’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The court had given the state an extra week to make the filing and the team took all but the last half hour of that time.
The 120-page, 17,000-word brief was entered by Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swenson did not file a brief in the appeal. With citations, the typographical error-ridden brief is nearly 45,000 words.
Citing many ultra-conservative organizations and authors, the brief argues that states have traditional authority over marriage, that “man-woman” marriage is the historic definition, that states which recognize same-sex marriage are doing so as “recent experimentation,” that the 1971 Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the Baker v. Nelson case is the controlling case and not the 2013 U.S. v. Windsor case and that no fundamental due-process right to marry someone of the same sex currently exists in the country.
The argument begins that, while Utah “respects and values those citizens [in same-sex relationships] and their children as both equal before the law and fully entitled to order their private lives in the manner they have chosen,” the state “has a duty to consider their [all Utah’s children] interests in deciding whether to abandon the man-woman definition of marriage.
Utah claims that “sound social science” affirms “that the diversity of having both a mom and a dad is the ideal parenting environment.”
“That model is not intended to demean other family structures, any more than giving an ‘A’ to some students demeans others,” the state argues.
The legal team said that, should same-sex marriage become legal, marriage would shift from a child-centric institution to an adult-centric one, resulting in more self-interest, increased fatherlessness and motherlessness and reduced birthrates.
The state says that other states which have validated same-sex marriage claimed they had “historic and essential authority” to define marriage free from “federal intrusion.”
“States like Utah that decide to place greater weight on the benefits to children of retaining the gendered definition of marriage are entitled to the same deference and respect. Anything less would effectively federalize domestic relations law,” the brief states.
“Because the district court did not give proper deference to the choice of Utah’s citizens, the State requests that this Court reverse,” the brief continued.