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Utah state attorneys file brief in same-sex marriage appeal

Attorneys for the State of Utah seeking to overturn a federal court decision that struck down a state ban on gay marriage filed a brief [text, PDF] on Tuesday with the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website]. In December a judge for the US District Court for the District of Utah [official website] struck down [JURIST report] the state's same-sex marriage ban. In response, the US Supreme Court [official website] temporarily blocked [JURIST report] the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in the state on January 6. The brief couches much of its argument on the "States' traditional authority over marriage" and "Utah's compelling interest in and commitment to children being raised by a biological mother and father, or other man-woman unions." In their brief, the state attorneys contend that "as between mutually exclusive models of marriage, the man-woman model is simply the one the state and its people believe is best for children." A hearing in the case is expected [Reuters report] on April 10 in Denver.

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] has been a widely debated issue in the US. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], in conjunction with a private law firm, filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in the Third Judicial District Court for the State of Utah Salt Lake County [official website] on behalf of four same-sex married couples in Utah. The Utah Attorney General originally filed an application for stay [JURIST report] with the US Supreme Court on January 2, to block same-sex marriages pending the state's appeal of December's district court decision, which struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban. The day after the Supreme Court responded by temporarily halting the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in the state, the office of Utah Governor Gary Herbert sent an e-mail to state Cabinet members, directing them to place legal recognition of same-sex marriages within the state on hold [JURIST report] until further notice. On January 10 US Attorney General Eric Holder announced [JURIST report] that the federal government will recognize the marriages that took place while same-sex marriage was briefly allowed in the state of Utah, despite the state's determination that it will put recognition of same-sex marriages on hold indefinitely.

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