A federal appeals court will hear a case on Thursday regarding the constitutionality of Utah’s marriage amendment. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver will hear arguments Thursday involving the language that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
In December, a Salt Lake City judge ruled against the amendment and about 1,200 same-sex couples got marriage licenses. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the state’s request to put the ruling on hold while the case is appealed.
Utah is arguing that children do best in a home with a married mother and father and that marriage is not “a zero-sum game that pits the needs of children against the desires of adults.”
“Given the stakes,” the state argues, “the state has important and compelling interests in — and certainly a rational basis for — minimizing each of those risks.”
Jeff Johnston, marriage and sexuality analyst for Focus on the Family, said there is a mountain of evidence to back up those claims.
“There are pages and pages of studies that show that children do best in so many different ways when they have a married mother and father,” he said. “They are less likely to live in poverty, they do better in school, they’re less likely to be involved in crime and violence, less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and they have better physical and mental wellbeing.”
The 10th Circuit will hear a similar case from Oklahoma on April 17. Austin Nimocks, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said states retain the right to amend their constitutions, including protecting marriage.
“Even on appeal,” he said, “the burden remains on the (same-sex couples) to demonstrate that there is no rational basis for this law.”
“I think the state of Utah is going to take this case as far as they can take it,” Johnston said. “There are dozens and dozens of cases working their way through the courts, so at some point the Supreme Court will have to deal with this issue again.”
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