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Court fight defining marriage in Utah moves forward

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – The court battle over Amendment 3, defining marriage in the state of Utah takes a step forward this.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – The court battle over Amendment 3, defining marriage in the state of Utah takes a step forward this.

On Monday, the Utah Attorney General's Office filed an answer to allegations that Amendment 3 violates the constitutional rights of same sex couples.

The move officially kicks off the litigation process that will play out in the United States District Court and perhaps beyond.

"In Utah marriage is defined as a legal relationship between one man and one woman, so we're defending that law. It's nothing personal," says Utah Attorney General, John Swallow.

The opposition does take it personal, saying it's discrimination.

They are calling out the wording of item 60 of the response.

It says: "Utah law prevents neither homosexuals nor lesbians from marrying. Homosexuals and lesbians may marry in Utah, but they face the same restriction heterosexuals do - they may not marry a person of the same sex."

"If it's hard to understand how that's discrimination, just imagine if you are heterosexual and the government said you can marry, you just have to marry someone of the same sex," says University of Utah Law Professor, Clifford Rosky.

Rosky believes Amendment 3 was designed to discriminate against gay couples and does. He says this court fight will likely go to the lands highest court.

"After the supreme courts ruling this summer it seems very clear that Amendment 3 violates the federal constitution," says Rosky.

It's those very rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 that the Attorney General waited on before filing this answer with the court.

"That sent a signal to us that states still have that right to define marriage. And certainly Utah has done that and that's why we're moving forward in defending our constitution and the right of the legislature and the right of the people to decide what marriage is," says Swallow.

The next step is a scheduling conference to set dates for key phases of litigation, but a date for that has not been set.

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