In an inspiring bit of breaking news, the Associated Press announced on Twitter on Friday, December 20 that a federal judge struck down “Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, saying it is unconstitutional.” The Salt Lake Tribune also reported that the judge claimed that the law violates the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.
The ruling came merely 16 days after the United States District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby heard arguments in the case, although his self-imposed deadline wasn’t until after the New Year. The lawsuit was brought to his attention by one gay couple and two lesbian couples, who both had wishes to marry that couldn’t be fulfilled due to the state’s prohibition of same-sex marriage.
Judge Shelby stated that although he agreed with Utah that marriage has traditionally been left to regulation by the states, such laws must comply with the US Constitution.
“The issue the court must address in this case is not who should define marriage, but the narrow question of whether Utah’s current definition of marriage is permissible under the Constitution,” the judge said, according to the Tribune.
“It is only under exceptional circumstances that a court interferes with such action. But the legal issues presented in this lawsuit do not depend on whether Utah’s laws were the result of its legislature or a referendum, or whether the laws passed by the widest or smallest of margins.”
GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz has since spoken out, sharing his joy on behalf of the organization. He posted, “At last, loving and committed couples in Utah will have the opportunity to celebrate marriage equality this holiday season.”
“We are seeing state leaders and more and more citizens recognize that loving and committed couples should not be legally kept apart,” wrote Cruz. “We look forward to seeing that momentum to continue in 2014.”