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Federal Court Strikes Down Utah's Gay Marriage Ban

Posted: December 20, 2013

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U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled that the state's 2004 ban on same-sex marriage violates the 14th Amendment's due process clause.

Derek Kitchen (left) and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, talk with the media outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse earlier this month, where a challenge to Utah's same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples was decided on Friday.

Derek Kitchen (left) and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, talk with the media outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse earlier this month, where a challenge to Utah's same-sex marriage ban by three gay couples was decided on Friday. Rick Bowmer

A federal judge has struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, saying it's unconstitutional.

The 53-page ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby says a 2004 ban passed by the state's voters violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Associated Press says:

"Attorneys for the state argued that Utah's law promotes the state's interest in 'responsible procreation' and the 'optimal mode of child-rearing.'

"The lawsuit was brought by three gay and lesbian couples in Utah.

"Many similar court challenges are pending in other states, but Utah's has been closely watched because of the state's history of staunch opposition to gay marriage as the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

The decision comes amid a recent flurry of states that have either enacted laws allowing gay marriage or been the subject of lawsuits arguing for or against it.

On Thursday, New Mexico's Supreme Court ruled unanimously that gay marriage was legal there, making it the 17th state to allow it (along with the District of Columbia).

And last month, Hawaii and Illinois both approved same-sex marriage.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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