A federal judge in Utah just issued a decision striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Obama appointee Judge Robert Shelby issued a 53-page decision , in Kitchen v. Herbert, saying the state’s current definition of marriage is not permissible under the U.S. Constitution.
Noting that a court interferes with a law adopted by voters “only under exceptional circumstances,” Shelby said, “Utah’s prohibition on same- sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law.”
“The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry,” wrote Shelby, “and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason.”
Shelby’s order immediately enjoined the state from enforcing its ban, but Republican Governor Gary Herbert’s administration will almost certainly seek an emergency stay of the decision from the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
It is, nevertheless, yet another surge of momentum in the direction of marriage equality in the United States, coming just one day after the New Mexico Supreme Court said that state could no longer interpret its marriage laws to exclude same-sex couples. That decision made New Mexico the 17 state in the country, plus the District of Columbia, to provide marriage equality and putting more than one-third of states and one-third of the nation’s population in jurisdictions that treat same-sex couples the same as straight couples.