Wednesday, July 23, 2014

3 gay couples want to intervene in Amendment 3 appeal

By McKenzie Romero, Deseret News

Published: Fri, Jan. 31 8:40 p.m. MST

 Three same-sex couples, including two who married in Utah while same-sex marriage was briefly permitted in December, want to testify as the case against Amendment 3 is appealed.

Three same-sex couples, including two who married in Utah while same-sex marriage was briefly permitted in December, want to testify as the case against Amendment 3 is appealed.

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Three same-sex couples, including two who married in Utah while gay marriage was briefly permitted in December, want to testify as the case against Amendment 3 is appealed.

A Dec. 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned Utah's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, but the couples say the ruling didn't address specific challenges they face in the state.

Two gay couples and one lesbian couple are asking to provide oral arguments when the case is heard in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: Lynn Beltran and Claudia O’Grady, who have been together 14 years and married on Dec. 23; Stanford Rovig and Charles Fluke, who have been together eight years and married Dec. 31; and Douglas Wortham and Nicholas Nero, who have been together 30 years but did not marry before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on Judge Shelby's ruling, halting same-sex marriage in Utah.

The couples say the state is discriminatory in not allowing them to file state taxes jointly, receive certain state pension benefits, adopt or be named a legal guardian of a partner's child, receive inheritance protections or make medical decisions for a partner.

The Denver-based court has scheduled oral arguments for April 10.

In a motion to intervene filed Friday, attorneys for the three couples expressed their confidence in the counsel representing the plaintiffs named in the suit but said their clients would provide "a significant and useful contribution."

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes received permission from the court to file an opening argument that could be as long as 24,000 words. The brief is due Feb. 3.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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1. worf
Mcallen, TX,
Jan. 31, 2014

California would welcome these people

2. A Quaker
Brooklyn, NY,
Jan. 31, 2014

We don't have long now to see the State's brief. Monday! I'm looking forward to reading it so I can figure out the betting line on this case. (Just kidding! Actually, I find social justice battles like this fascinating. If Schaerr & Co. fail to come up with anything compelling and germane, that's it, game over and we can anticipate marriage equality in the whole country in short order. OTOH, if the brief is a good one, it'll be fun to play along at home and try to guess the plaintiff's response.)

Unless there's some new exciting legal theory about how homophobic fears trumps the civil rights of homosexual citizens, or states' rights trumps the U.S. Constitution, we may not even get to the testimony stage. Reading all the same easily dismissed arguments being presented here over and over by devout conservatives has me thinking there isn't much of a case in defense of Amendment 3. Let's see if Schaerr can prove me wrong. On the other hand, he might just try the procedural error route, but I don't think that will bear much fruit.

3. oragami
St. George, UT,
Feb. 1, 2014

I don't see why the court would deny these couples an opportunity to testify. The outcome affects them directly after all.

I have read some of Schaerr's publications regarding gay marriage and I have to say......If those are the best arguments he can present to the court, he will be falling on his sword shortly.

4. Bob K
portland, OR,
Feb. 1, 2014

Suppose what the couples say is:

We just want to be treated the same, including when we shop or look for work.
We just want the same rights and privileges as our siblings.
We want our kids to have married parents like other kids do.
We have no interest in making any religious person do anything, other than being nice to us, avoiding pushing their religion in our face, and not gossip about us.
We would like our own religion to recognize us, but we will be patient.
We would prefer to not have to remind anyone that we are citizens who pay taxes.

As well as:
It hurts us and our families when some people call us names, say we are afflicted sinners, going to hell, and so on. We don't spend time knocking others.
It seems to us that we are the "whipping boys/girls" for some religions, while divorce and adultery and other behavior that hurts people is mentioned much less.

Finishing with:
We understand the mindset of many Utahns, who feel that they are called to uphold values they believe in, even many who know that means discrimination against us.

5. The Scientist
Provo, UT,
Feb. 1, 2014

I share Quaker's fascination. I have watched and even searched for sound, valid arguments coming from the religious communities supporting their opposition to marriage equality, but have done so in vain. Not a single argument has been raised to date that holds up to logical, legal, civil, or even moral muster. If Schaer et al can finally put together something worthy of consideration, I will be shocked and awed.