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This photo shows couples waiting to get marriage licenses at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Dec. 23, 2013. The state’s same-sex marriage ban is under review in a federal appeals court.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon church and a coalition of religious organizations were expected to file an argument to a federal appeals court by end of the day Monday explaining why they believe Utah’s same-sex marriage ban should stand.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will file a “friend of the court” brief, along with Catholic, Southern Baptist and Lutheran organizations and the National Association of Evangelicals, court records show. The brief is being handled by the Salt Lake City law firm that represents the Mormon church, Kirton and McConkie.
The deadline for filings in support of Utah before the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was midnight. Other groups and organizations have begun submitting their arguments, including a group of attorney generals from 10 states who argue same-sex marriage is not part of American tradition.
Utah state attorneys filed their opening argument last week, saying the optimal environment for raising children is with a mother and father. The state contends that redefining marriage poses “real, concrete risks to children” because not having a mother or father leads to emotional damage. The state said its duty is to look out for the long-term interests of children who can’t defend themselves.
Attorneys for three gay and lesbian couples in Utah who brought the lawsuit against Utah will file their response by Feb. 25. Organizations who want to send in arguments in support of the couples have until March 4.
Attorneys representing three gay and lesbian Utah couples have scoffed at the notion that gay and lesbian couples make inferior parents, saying there is no scientific evidence to back that claim.
They have also pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer that struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act as backing in this case. In that decision, the justices wrote that limiting marriages to a man and a woman relegates gay marriages to second-class status and “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples.”
A hearing has been set for April 10 in Denver.
The court will then decide if it agrees with a federal judge in Utah who in mid-December overturned the 2004 voter-passed ban, saying it violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. The appeals court also is reviewing a similar decision about Oklahoma’s ban, and a hearing on that case has been set for April 17.
The arguments in support of Utah’s gay marriage ban, passed by two-thirds of voters in 2004, began trickling in Monday.
Attorney generals from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Carolina filed a brief that said same-sex marriage is not part of the country’s roots and traditions.
“Traditional marriage is too deeply imbedded in our laws, history and traditions for a court to hold that more recent state constitutional enactment of that definition is illegitimate or irrational,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller wrote.
Zoeller went on to tamp down the notion that defining marriage as between a man and a woman discriminates against gays and lesbians.
“There is no plausible argument that the traditional definition of marriage was invented as a way to discriminate against homosexuals or to maintain the ‘superiority’ of heterosexuals,” Zoeller wrote.
The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy argued in court papers submitted Monday that the federal government doesn’t have the right to tell states how to regulate marriage.
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