The state of Utah defended its ban on same-sex marriage in court on Friday, arguing that the 2004 constitutional amendment recognizing only traditional marriage proves the state's interest in promoting "responsible procreation." The state also argued that its "child-centric" culture grants it the right to assert the "age-old and still predominant" traditional definition of marriage.
The comments were made Friday by lawyers for the state to U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby of Salt Lake City. The state is requesting that Shelby grant a summary judgment in the federal court case Kitchen vs. Herbert, in which three same-sex couples are charging that the state's 2004, voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional.
The plaintiffs, including Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity; Karen Archer and Kate Call; and Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge, argue that the ban, known as Amendment 3, practices discrimination against same-sex couples in the state as it denies what they see to be the basic, fundamental right to marriage. The state's Amendment 3 not only constitutionally bans same-sex marriage in the state but also refuses to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Supporters of the Amendment have argued it does not discriminate against anyone as all people have the "right to marry," but simply that marriage, by definition, is a union between one man and one woman.
The complaint, filed by the three couples in March against Utah's Governor Gary Herbert, argues that the constitutional amendment is meant to strip same-sex couples of federal and state protections awarded to heterosexual couples. The complaint adds that the amendment has furthered "privately held moral views that same-sex couples were not moral and were inferior to heterosexual couples."
"These are the same types of justifications that were used to advance and preserve racist laws, directed against non-white minorities, such as laws banning interracial marriage," the complaint adds.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the state's lawyers said in motions filed Friday that the case is "really about who decides, not who is right in this important policy debate," adding that the state's constitution "does not withhold from Utah the right to choose how to define marriage." The state goes on to say that its recognition of traditional marriage grants the "optimal environment for child-rearing," as the state is the most married and child-centric state in the nation.
"Same-sex couples, who cannot procreate, do not promote the state's interests in responsible procreation [regardless of whether they harm it]," reads the state's motion.
A hearing for a summary judgment in the case is set for Dec. 4, but if District Judge Shelby denies a grant for judgment summary to either side, the case will proceed to trial.