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Utah Federal Judge Strikes Down Marriage Ban for Same-Sex Couples

 Michael-Ferguson-and-his-husband-Seth-Anderson

Today a federal judge in Utah struck down the state?s marriage ban, saying that the law violates the U.S. Constitution?s guarantees of due process and equal protection. The full ruling is online?here.

The Associated Press reports:

Cheers erupted as the mayor of Salt Lake City led one of the state?s first gay wedding ceremonies in an office building about three miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church.

Deputy Salt Lake County Clerk Dahnelle Burton-Lee said the district attorney authorized her office to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples but she couldn?t immediately say how many had been issued.

Just hours earlier, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby issued a 53-page ruling saying the constitutional amendment Utah voters approved in 2004 violates gay and lesbian couples? rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment. Shelby said the state failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect opposite-sex marriages in any way.

?In the absence of such evidence, the State?s unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the State?s refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens,? Shelby wrote.

Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson?were the first couple to be married.Among the dozens of same-sex couples lined up to get marriage licences at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office wer State Senator Jim Dabakis and his longtime partner Stephen Justesen.