Friday, January 10

Newfound Love for Church and State

The Supreme Court granted a stay, with no dissenting opinion, on gay marriages in Utah after the ruling judge and appellate court did not, three times in a row.

Then the state of Utah did something really cool. With the law back on the books, they looked at it, tried to determine what it actually meant, and decided to follow it. They didn't just put it on hold. They did what is required by a judicial stay - they treated the law as written.

In this case, it means not only not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but also not recognizing same-sex marriages performed in areas/times where same-sex marriage was legal, like California or Massachusetts or Utah for 17 days. The law states that Utah does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The state didn't invalidate those marriage licenses. A Supreme Court judge will have to rule on that. But in keeping with the law, the state immediately stopped recognizing same-sex marriages, so people who had already filed for joint benefits may have already received them, but all other applications for government recognition have been frozen in time.

That's pretty cool, because it's perfectly what the law and judicial order requires... and Utah is actually doing it. It's cool to me because that position - maintaining the law and acting on it - is a really unpopular one in many eyes, and will probably spark huge debates amongst people (potentially why the attorney general of California refused to support a constitutional amendment and why prop 8 died - one person didn't like it and didn't want to do something potentially unpopular).

So that has rekindled a bit of my faith in government. I thought it had all died.

Then today the Church released a statement about same-sex marriage, extremely clearly stating its position and also encouraging people to stand up for Christian morals and to love others and treat them with civility, even when we disagree. That's pretty cool too. The link is at

All in all, right now I'm pretty happy with what's happening. I think the law will probably have to go through another appeal, since the district court probably doesn't feel comfortable being unpopular, but at the Supreme Court, where the issue becomes a state vs federal rights issue... marriage has always been a state right. When I learned about laws and the difference, marriage was the example they gave as a state-given and state-governed right. I think there are a lot of people who want the state to win in this one, because it is a much bigger issue than just about gay marriage.

Yeah. Just some thoughts. Law is actually sometimes interesting. Who would have thought? I definitely wouldn't. I'm still not sure how I feel about that statement. I promised myself I wouldn't get an MBA and somehow broke that promise. I also promised I wouldn't study law. I'm still okay with that one. :)


  1. I've always thought it interesting that in discussions of SSM people who oppose it bring up the fear that they will have to perform SS ceremonies. I've wondered why, rather than create laws to block something you don't want, create laws to protect the very thing you want: religious freedom. E.g., push a law forward that makes religious organizations exempt from performing SSM. What do you think?

    1. Religious exemptions are only useful for religions where every member is a full-time pastor or clergyman. I don't think you could ever force a bishop to marry someone he didn't want to marry.

      But we've seen many times where people are forced to celebrate, take part in, or sponsor same-sex marriages. Maybe someday there will be laws that allow people to act according to their own morals, but in the meantime, people who object can either discard their morals or discard their business.


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