Judge strikes down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - A US federal judge struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage on Friday on the grounds that it violated the U.S.

Judge strikes down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A US federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage on Friday on the grounds that it violated the U.S. Constitution, in a ruling that appeared to clear the way for the state to become the 18th in the nation to allow gay marriage.

“The court hereby enjoins the state from enforcing” the ban “to the extent these laws prohibit a person from marrying another person of the same sex,” U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby said in the ruling, which was in response to a lawsuit brought by three gay and lesbian couples seeking the right to marry.

Utah lawmakers had passed laws to prohibit gay marriage, and voters in 2004 approved an amendment to the state constitution to restrict the union to only between a man and a woman.

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Shelby, whose district court is in Salt Lake City, found the ban violated the couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, according to his 53-page opinion.

A spokesman for the Utah Attorney General’s Office could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could representatives of Governor Gary Herbert.

The judge’s ruling came a day after the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex marriage across the state, ending legal ambiguity that had produced a patchwork arrangement in which some counties permitted gay nuptials while others prohibited them.

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