Couples challenge Utah's same-sex marriage ban

- SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Utah’s same sex marriage ban is in the national spotlight as three gay couples are challenging the law’s constitutionality.

The debate is in the national spotlight due to Utah’s history of being faithfully against the marriage of gays and lesbians.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby made several interesting comments in the courtroom Wednesday. He asked attorneys on both sides of the issue hard and pressing questions to help him better understand the fight before he makes his ruling.

Three gay couples filed the lawsuit in March. Two of the couples are made up of lesbian partners. The third is a relationship between two men, Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity.

The two are fighting for the right to get married in Utah. Currently, Utah Constitutional Amendment 3 only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman.

“We've been together four and a half years now and we do business together and we deserve to get married just like any other heterosexual couple,” Kitchen said.

The attorney for the men, Peggy Tomsic, and the two other couples argued her clients have a fundamental right to marriage.

“There is a clear line of authority from the Supreme Court that says you cannot let popular vote determine a citizen’s constitutional right,” Tomsic said.

Tomsic added that if that were the case, states would still ban racially integrated marriages in the South.

State Attorney Phil Lott said it is up to the people to decide what marriage is. He said 66% of Utah voters chose the union between a man and a woman. Lott said the state also has an interest in “responsible procreation.” He said raising children a household with a biological mom and dad is the preferred way.

“It’s the situation that’s existed for millennia,” Lott said. “It’s the traditional way that families are organized.”

But Kitchen and Sbeity said it is time for a change.

“We’ll fight on marriage first and then we’ll talk about kids,” Kitchen said.

The couple wants to live without the stigma associated with same-sex marriage in Utah.

“Utah is home and there’s no point in moving to a different state because Utah is home,” Sbeity added. “We will get married in Utah.”

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