Court asked to reject Utah bid to ban gay marriage

6:25 PM, Jan 3, 2014   |    comments
Same-sex couples Natalie Dicou, left, and Nichole Christensen, middle left, and James Goodman, middle right, and Jeffrey Gomez, right, wait in line to get a marriage license at the Salt Lake County Clerk's Office in Salt Lake City on Dec. 31. (Photo: Kim Raff, AP)
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(USA Today)-- Lawyers for same-sex couples in Utah asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to reject the state's effort to block same-sex marriages.

RELATED: Utah asks Supreme Court to block same-sex unions

More than 900 same-sex couples have gotten married in Utah since U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled the law unconstitutional on Dec. 20.

Utah took its appeal to the Supreme Court on Tuesday after it tried and failed to get the 10th District Court to stay Shelby's decision.

In response, attorney Peggy Tomsic said in Salt Lake City on Friday that the state's bid for an emergency block on gay marriages should be turned down because Utah has not demonstrated how the weddings are harming anyone else. She said lawyers for same-sex couples have filed papers in the case with the Supreme Court.

In appealing to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Utah argued that Shelby had created a new constitutional right for same-sex couples by ruling that the state's ban violated federal guarantees of equal protection.

"Numerous same-sex marriages are now occurring every day in Utah," Utah lawyers asserted in its appeal to the high court. "Each one is an affront not only to the interests of the state and its citizens in being able to define marriage through ordinary democratic channels, but also to this court's unique role as final arbiter."

Utah repeatedly stressed that states "have a powerful interest in controlling the definition of marriage within their borders is indisputable" and noted that same-sex marriage is a recent innovation that is not "deeply rooted in the nation's history and tradition."

In responding to the latter claim, the attorneys for the same-sex couples argued, "When analyzing cases involving fundamental rights, this court has not held that the contours of a fundamental right can be limited based on who seeks to exercise it or on historical patterns of discrimination."

Contributing: Associated Press

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