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Utah Federal Court Holds Same-Sex Couples Allowed to Marry

A U.S. District Court in Utah has held that, “Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law. The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason.” Kitchen v. Herbert, No. 2:13-cv-217 (D. Utah Dec. 20, 2013). The Kitchen decision was issued the day after the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a similar decision. For more information, please see New Mexico Supreme Court Holds Same-Sex Couples Allowed to Marry.  

The plaintiffs included two couples who were denied marriage licenses by the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office, and a couple who was married in Iowa and wished to have the marriage recognized in Utah. The three couples challenged Amendment 3 to the Utah Constitution, requiring that marriage be limited to a union between a man and a woman, which passed in 2004 with support from 66 percent of voters.

According to the plaintiffs, Utah’s prohibition of same-sex marriages infringed their rights to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. Defending its law, Utah argued that the State has the right to define marriage free from federal interference.  

Judge Shelby held that,  based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision inU.S. v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), Amendment 3 to the State Constitution violated the plaintiffs’ due process rights and rights to equal protection under the United States Constitution. Judge Shelby compared Amendment 3 to laws prohibiting interracial marriage which were challenged in the 1960s, and noted that Amendment 3 “deprive[d] a targeted minority of the full measure of human dignity and liberty by denying them the freedom to marry the partner of their choice.”

A number of same-sex marriages have taken place since the decision was issued.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume III, Number 358


About this Author

Conrad Shawn Kee, e-Discovery Attorney, Jackson Lewis Law Firm

Conrad Shawn Kee in the Denver and Stamford offices of Jackson Lewis P.C.  Mr. Kee is a member of the firm’s e-Discovery and Workplace Technology Practice Group, the co-chair of the firm’s Trade Secret Protection and Non-Competition Practice Group, the director of the Jackson Lewis E-Discovery U™ program, and a member of the firm’s International Employment Issues and Corporate Governance and Internal Investigations Practice Groups.  Shawn was selected by peers and in-house counsel to be listed in Chambers USA Guide to America’s Leading Business Lawyers for several years.

(203) 961-0404
Francis P. Alvarez, Jackson Lewis, Health Care Management Attorney, Injured Workers Lawyer

Francis P. (Frank) Alvarez is a Principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is the Leader of the Disability, Leave and Health Management Practice Group, which assists employers in meeting the legal and practical challenges posed by federal and state laws protecting injured and ill employees.

Counseling hundreds of employers each year, Mr. Alvarez spearheads the firm’s effort to provide imaginative and creative solutions to the complex array of workplace disability and health management issues faced by both large and small companies. In the Jackson Lewis tradition, Mr. Alvarez counsels clients with the goal of either avoiding litigation entirely or improving outcomes before administrative agencies, courts and juries.

Lisa M. deFilippis, Jackson Lewis, manufacturing industry lawyer, sports management attorney
Of Counsel

Lisa M. deFilippis is Of Counsel in the Cleveland, Ohio, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She has practiced employee benefits law for 25 years.

Ms. deFilippis advises a wide range of businesses and organizations in various industries, including manufacturing, sports management, health care, professional practice, tax-exempt organizations, universities and government entities, varying in size from large publicly traded companies, public universities, mid-size companies to small closely held businesses and nonprofits.

Minnie Fu, Jackson Lewis, Immigration Litigation Lawyer, Employment VISA Applications attorney

Minnie Fu is a Principal in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on assisting employers in obtaining employment-related visas and advising employers on compliance with U.S. immigration laws and regulations.

Ms. Fu has twenty years of experience in employment-based immigration matters, including nonimmigrant and immigrant visa matters, developing corporate immigration policies and procedures for best practices, and strategic corporate planning for international personnel employment by...

Michelle E. Phillips, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Labor Employment Attorney

Michelle E. Phillips is a Principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She handles various types of employment litigation, with an emphasis on sexual harassment matters.

Ms. Phillips also counsels clients on a variety of labor and employment matters concerning federal and state employment laws. She frequently conducts and advises clients on internal investigations and leads employment discrimination and sexual harassment seminars and in-house diversity training programs for clients.