Sen. Mike Lee won't speculate on gay marriage becoming legal

By Dennis Romboy, Deseret News

Published: Thu, May 29, 2014, 3:55 p.m. MDT

 Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, addresses the Utah Republican Party nominating convention, Saturday, April 26, 2014, in Sandy, Utah.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, addresses the Utah Republican Party nominating convention, Saturday, April 26, 2014, in Sandy, Utah.

(Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee says he doesn't know if same-sex marriage will become legal across the country, unlike Utah's senior senator who sees it as inevitable.

"What I do know is that it's wrong for these decisions to be made by federal judges," the first-term Republican said Thursday.

Lee also compared the federal government to Godzilla when it comes to religious freedom during an interview on KSL NewsRadio's "The Doug Wright Show." As government grows, he said, those rights become more endangered.

"Sometimes government steps on religious liberty, perhaps inadvertently, but it does so just because government's big," he said.

On Wednesday, seven-term GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch said anyone who doesn't believe gay marriage will become the law of the land hasn't been watching what's going.

"The trend right now in the courts is to permit gay marriage, and anybody who doesn't admit that just isn’t living in the real world," Hatch said. "I don't think that's the right way to go. But on the other hand, I do accept whatever the courts say."

Lee said the decision should rest with states, not courts, because nothing in the Constitution prohibits states from recognizing marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.

"That’s where those decisions need to be made. They shouldn't be thrust upon the states by federal judges who aren't elected. They're not accountable to anyone who is elected," he said.

Utah's appeal of U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby's decision overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage rests with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which could rule any day.

"We will be ready to analyze whatever decision comes down from the 10th Circuit," Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said earlier this week.

In a separate case, the state hasn't decided whether to appeal U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball's ruling last week forcing recognition of gay and lesbian marriages performed in Utah during the brief time it was legal. Kimball stayed his decision for 21 days.

"I think the judge was wise in giving us time to assess that. We haven't made any decisions yet. We're looking at all of our options," Reyes said.

Regardless of the outcome in Utah, the same-sex marriage question will likely reach the U.S. Supreme Court. The Utah case could be one that the high court takes up.

Lee predicts eight of the justices will be split with Justice Anthony Kennedy being the swing vote.

"I'm not sure which way it will go," he said. "It could go either way."

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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1. RSLfanalways
Why, AZ,
May 29, 2014

I remember when Mike Lee also said that Government Shutdown was not inevitable but he was wrong about that. I beleive that gay marriage is inevitable.

2. patriot
Cedar Hills, UT,
May 29, 2014

" I do accept whatever the courts say." (Orin Hatch)

This is the same sort of nonsense as saying I personally oppose abortion but I support the right to perform an abortion. What exactly does that mean?? Are you just a rubber stamp guy or are you a Senator who will FIGHT against those things that are WRONG and make them RIGHT? I think this is case in point why we need to get rid of Orin Hatch - the man is nothing more than a rubber stamp guy who just wants to get a long....no waves. We need a guy who DOES want to make waves - BIG ONES!!! If the US congress and the president sign into law the right for states to decide about gay marriage or even a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage then it doesn't matter what the federal courts say. Orin doesn't seem to get this idea.

3. Understands Math
Lacey, WA,
May 29, 2014

Mike Lee said: "What I do know is that it's wrong for these decisions to be made by federal judges"

No, it was wrong for the question to be put to a public vote in the first place. Civil rights are not up to the whim of the electorate.

4. ThornBirds
St.George, Utah,
May 29, 2014

Absolutely, without a doubt!
Our nation will always turn to Mike Lee and Jason Chaffetz for accurate, state of the art, up to the minute opinions on the important issues in the United States and abroad.
Yea, right.

5. patriot
Cedar Hills, UT,
May 29, 2014

re:Understands Math

show me in the US Constitution where gay marriage is a guranteed civil right. It is NOT. Your idea of civil rights are just your ideas and nothing more. I don't share your "civil rights" opinions and in fact I strongly disagee with them. The question you need to ask is "what does the US Constitition say". We live in a society of laws....a hard concept for liberals to grasp.