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Utahns react to the Supreme Court decision

Written by Staff

Official statements from politicians and organizations on the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision today.

Gov. Gary Herbert

“Marriage, as defined by the people of Utah, has been redefined, first by the federal courts and today the outcome of that decision has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. I am disappointed with the decision by the court to usurp state authority and overrule the voice of the people of Utah as demonstrated by legislation with regard to marriage. I am also very concerned with the overwhelming trend to diminish state autonomy. I believe states should have the right to determine their own laws regarding marriage. Clearly, the majority of the justices disagree and their decision provides finality with respect to the law.”

Mayor Ralph Becker

“This is a historic day for our country, the state of Utah and our community as the Supreme Court appropriately extends the right of marriage to every loving couple across the land.

The joy we are feeling in Salt Lake City is palpable and I am personally grateful for this incredible affirmation of our civil rights and the elimination of the contrived legal barriers that have unnecessarily divided us in the past. This moment brings to mind Martin Luther King, Jr.’s immortal words, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

We should all pause today and remember the courageous stance taken by local couples who refused to be content with the second-class status that was imposed on them and took their fight to the courts-laying the groundwork for first overturning Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage and then playing a critical role in the groundswell that led to today’s ruling.

I will never forget that day, just a year-and-a-half ago, when I had the privilege to be a part of the first window of opportunity for every Utah couple to signify their love and commitment through the right of marriage. Today, all those feelings are back and I look forward to this overdue recognition being a giant step in the ongoing fight for equality, compassion and inclusion for every person, everywhere.”

Senator Orrin Hatch

“The issue of same-sex marriage involves deeply held convictions on all sides of the debate. While I oppose discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, I do not support redefining the fundamental nature of marriage as between a man and a woman. But now that the Supreme Court has spoken, I will do everything in my power to ensure that this decision does not infringe on important concerns such as our fundamental right to the free exercise of religion.”

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes

“Throughout this case, the State made its best arguments to allow decisions about the fundamental nature of marriage to be decided through the democratic process and at the state level, avoiding a situation similar to Roe v. Wade from a generation ago. We understand many are thrilled with today’s outcome and many are equally disappointed. Regardless of one’s opinion of the ruling, the High Court has provided the guidance our office and the citizens of Utah and this nation have sought for several years. Advocacy on both sides helped bring us to this point of resolution. While people of goodwill on all sides of this issue have been at times divided and conflicted, we have an opportunity to come together again as equal citizens of this great state and nation.

After today, some questions remain regarding how this decision affects various individual situations and state agency operations in Utah beyond the specific issues addressed today by the Court. Our legislature, governor and state agencies will need to address these issues to provide greater clarity. In a significant way, they have already begun to draw a balance with legislation respecting religious freedoms and legislative protections for the LGBTQ Community. Should such freedoms and protections come under constitutional challenge, our office will do its duty and defend them just as we defended Amendment 3 and related laws. This is an important part of the legal process and fulfillment of our oaths.”

Sen. Mike Lee

“Today five Justices took a vital question about the future of American society out of the public square, imposing the views of five unelected judges on a country that is still in the midst of making up its mind about marriage,” Lee said. “That is unfortunate, but it is not the end of the discussion, as Americans of good faith who believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman will continue to live as witnesses to that truth. “

“I am nonetheless heartened by the majority’s reassurance that the religious liberty rights of all Americans, including those who advocate a traditional view of marriage, must be protected. As Justice Kennedy states in the decision, ‘the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protections as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.’”

“Our focus now must be on defending these crucial rights of conscience. That is exactly why Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and I have introduced the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prevent the federal government from discriminating against anyone who believes that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.”

Equality Utah — Troy Williams, executive director

“This is a tremendous achievement for freedom, equality and love. Today millions of American families can now celebrate that our country is truly dedicated to happiness, liberty and justice for all.”

Utah Pride Center:

“The Utah Pride Center is thrilled with the Supreme Court decision granting full marriage equality across the United States. Strong families are a hallmark value of our state, and this ruling provides constitutional clarity that the rights of individuals and of LGBTQ families are protected by the same ideals for which our country’s founders fought..

While Utah LGBTQ couples have had full equal rights within the state, they can now travel or move across the entirety of their country knowing their status doesn’t change by crossing a border, that they are equal everywhere they go. Today we stand with all the current families, and future families, throughout the United States who are now equal in the eyes of the law of their country.”

Utah Democratic Party — Chair Peter Corroon

“This is another historic day. Same-sex couples will now be able to legally marry in all 50 states. Today’s decision acknowledges what Utahns have always known — families come in all shapes and sizes, and each of them is worthy of respect and legal protections. In addition to recognizing the rights of the individual, we also recognize the rights of religious institutions to not be compelled to act against their beliefs.

“Families will now be able to legally protect their children, visit one another in the hospital, inherit property, and enjoy all the rights that come from legal marriage.

“With the court’s decision, the legality of marriage equality has been decided, and we encourage all Utahns to continue with civil discourse. Everyone deserves respect, regardless of differing opinions on this emotional subject, and we look forward to embracing all individuals and families regardless of our differences.”

Utah House Democratic Leader Brian King

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a great thing. It is the culmination of the work of many U.S. federal district and circuit court judges over many years. These judges have struggled to reconcile the difficult legal and Constitutional issues same sex marriage presents to our country.

“We know this has been a divisive issue. And we recognize that each individual has the right to their own moral and religious beliefs regarding same sex marriage. But we welcome this ruling because it makes clear that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not acceptable under the Constitution and that families of all types are entitled to protection under the law. All people are created equal in this country and they deserve equal rights. As such, today’s ruling is a tremendous legal victory for not just the LGBTQ community but for all of us. The finality this ruling brings to this legal issue will help us move forward as a more united society.”

Utah Eagle Forum — Gayle Ruzicka

Today’s decision from the United States Supreme Court makes this a tragic day in the history of this great nation!

Gayle Ruzicka, President of Utah Eagle Forum, stated, “Five unelected people in black robes have overturned the decision of more than Tens of Millions of Americans who voted to uphold the true definition of marriage, which is the union of a man and a woman.   Four justices agree with the true meaning of marriage and that the American people have the right to define marriage according to long-standing cultural values, societal norms and religious commands.  In a 5 – 4 decision, one person changed all of that.

However, just because 5 men and women decided to change the law, it does not change God’s law.  His law is immutable.

We agree with Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion when he said that this decision “robs the People of … the freedom to govern themselves” and that it is “lacking even a thin veneer of law.”  The decision has no basis whatever in the Constitution which has nothing to say on the subject of marriage.  5 Justices of the Supreme Court have overstepped their bounds in an attempt to legislate from the bench.

From the beginning of time marriage has been between a man and a woman.  The original Noah Webster 1828 Dictionary defines marriage as, “The act of uniting a man and woman . . the legal union of a man and woman.”  It is very clear that the union between anyone other than a man and a woman is not marriage.  It takes both a man and a woman to create a baby, there is no other way and all children deserve both a mother and a father.

While the 1st Amendment to the Constitution protects the free exercise of religion, the courts have failed to uphold it as it relates to homosexual rights.  With today’s decision, it is more important than ever that individual right of conscience and ability to live according to the dictates of religious belief (and protections from being forced to act contrary to those beliefs) be protected by governments at all levels!   It is important that all people who believe in God’s definition of marriage — who understand  that His commandments for mankind clearly teach that marriage is only between a man and a woman — continue to stand-up for the true meaning of marriage and work to once again restore God’s law as the law of the land.”

Mormons for Equality:

“This is a beautiful day for so many families and we applaud the Court’s ruling. But our work is not done. Alongside changing the laws, we must continue to change hearts.” said Spencer W. Clark, Executive Director of Mormons for Equality. “For over two decades Mormons have feared – and fought – civil marriage equality. It will take time to overcome and repent of our past, but as we’ve seen already, the more that we come to know same-sex couples and their children, the more we discover that our fears were misplaced. Mormons believe in the importance of families, and for increasing numbers of Mormons, that means all families.”

Celebration of Marriage — Mary Summerhays

“The credibility of the judicial system has been permanently damaged as it concluded that adult relationships are so important that children must give up their relationship with their own mother or father when it comes into conflict with gay marriage. The Supreme Court has turned a blind eye to a child’s need for both a father and mother. This causes irreparable rifts in every aspect of family law, from custody battles in divorce courts, to adoptions that idealize motherless and fatherless family structures. The resulting fracture of family law will weaken Americans’ natural respect for the Court and turn the question of children’s legal relationships into an unresolvable and painful chaos.”

Libertas Institute — Connor Boyack

“Our LGBT friends have good reason to be happy today, but those concerned about our laws and legal structure have great cause for alarm. As Chief Justice Roberts said in his dissent, ‘The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent… Just who do we think we are?’

“Today’s opinion—and let’s be clear, that’s all it is—provides an opportunity for lawmakers to reconsider their long-standing support for government intervention in such an important societal relationship. In the coming months, we will be encouraging elected officials to consider a proposal to repeal government licensure of marriage, allowing churches, notaries public, and others to privately officiate and sanction these unions.

“Despite what some lawyers think, there is no ‘fundamental right’ to a government permission slip. The long-standing violation of the sacred union of marriage—encouraged by those looking to shape society to match their vision—needs to be fixed.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges that following today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex marriages are now legal in the United States. The Court’s decision does not alter the Lord’s doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice.”

The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City

“Today the Supreme Court of the United States decided state marriage bans are unconstitutional, meaning all states will perform and recognize same-sex marriage. This decision, though significant, does not conclude debate over the definition of marriage. As the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City responded when U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, so we again affirm our pastoral response. As Catholics, we seek to uphold our traditional belief in marriage as a sacrament, a well established and divinely revealed covenant between one man and one woman, a permanent and exclusive bond meant to provide a nurturing environment for children and the fundamental building block to a just society. At the same time, we respect the dignity of all persons, not wishing to undermine their pursuit of happiness but only to preserve and defend the gift of marriage as divinely revealed in scripture and in natural law. Although we respectfully disagree with those who would define marriage otherwise, we firmly hold that all persons are loved by our compassionate God and deserve the respect and dignity that is inherently theirs as human beings. We acknowledge the right of our nation’s highest court to provide for a well ordered society by establishing laws that protect the common good and safeguard the civil and contractual rights and privileges of its citizens. At the same time, we urge our lawmakers and judges to respect those institutions that are beyond state and federal jurisdiction, institutions such as sacramental marriage that transcend civil law and whose origins precede the existence of the state and go beyond its competence.”

Sutherland Institute — William Duncan

“For millennia, marriage has been recognized in virtually all known human societies as the union of a husband and wife. As such, marriage encouraged those whose relationship alone could create a child to commit to one another and to any children their union would produce. The security of their bond provided a stable foundation for both them and their children to flourish. Their union also could provide their children the unique, and uniquely valuable, contributions of both a mother and father. In most instances, the children would also be ensured of a real tie to their biological parents. Marriage, even when children were not possible for the couple, powerfully demonstrated the equal contributions of men and women to a family.

The U.S. Supreme Court has now said this understanding of marriage is prohibited by the majority’s interpretation of the Constitution.

That is clearly wrong. Nothing in the language or intent of the 14th Amendment prohibits the states from recognizing the glaring reality that men and women are different and that an institution made up of both is different from one in which either is excluded. No reasonable Court precedent or interpretation requires the states to pretend that children are not entitled to a married mother and father wherever possible.

The Court’s decision reflects a growing opinion among government and other elites that adult interests should be prioritized over those of children and that marriage is nothing more than a government’s way of dignifying adult lifestyle arrangements.

No matter how powerful the adherents of this view, it is woefully inadequate for grappling with the large realities societies have always faced and which have not diminished (quite the contrary). We still need to connect mothers and fathers to one another and their children.

With the Supreme Court’s decision, we also have to grapple with a much newer challenge — protecting the ability of those who still recognize the value of the old wisdom about marriage to speak freely about their beliefs and associate with others who do so as well, without having their livelihoods threatened.

Indeed, these two challenges interact. We need strong, persuasive voices encouraging men and women to marry and commit to one another and to the children they rear together. The problem, however, is that a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court have labeled that view as a form of “discrimination.”

This means that we must be vigilant in preserving and securing protections for freedom of religion, association and speech.

It also means that we must continue to make the case for marriage — that children deserve a relationship with their own mother and father, committed to each other through marriage, or with a married mom and dad when their own parents cannot raise them. That men and women are different, not interchangeable parts in a family.

It will take courage to continue to advocate for marriage as the union of husband and wife, but we owe that much to our fellow citizens whose freedoms are implicated and to children whose entitlement to a married mother and father has been ignored in this decision.”

World Congress of Families — Janice Shaw Crouse, executive director

“The natural family was here long before the Supreme Court — long before governments — and it will be here long after they are gone. The Supreme Court cannot by dictate erase every child’s need—every child’s right—to a mother and a father. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Almost 60 million unborn children have lost their lives to abortion since the Court’s flawed ruling on Roe v. Wade in 1973. Now, with this ruling, the Court is undermining what the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights acknowledges as government’s fundamental duty to protect children by protecting the natural family. It denies the right of children to a mother and father, and the consequences will be as dire as those attending Roe v. Wade, perhaps even more so. If the Court does not recognize this basic element of human ecology—then we must energize an effective cultural movement to protect our children and our future by defending the rights of the most vulnerable, and help our societies rediscover and reclaim the benefits of this uniquely sustainable and beneficial structure.

The World Congress of Families welcomes all people of good will to participate in open and straightforward discussions in Salt Lake City October 27-30. We will focus on research findings and informed commentary to strengthen the natural family against those factors –– both within the family and from the outside culture –– that undermine and/or weaken the family, and the rights of innocent children to be given life and to be raised by a loving and protective mother and father.”

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