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The "gay marriage" roller-coaster in Utah

Utah fighting federal judge's ruling overturning state's Marriage Amendment.

MassResistance working closely with activists.

POSTED: Jan. 14, 2014

Utah is the latest "gay marriage" battleground. On Dec. 20 (the Friday before Christmas!) an Obama-appointed federal judge ruled that Utah's constitutional amendment on marriage is "unconstitutional." And that's led to a roller-coaster of legal and political responses in the three weeks since then.

The Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City.

MassResistance has been actively helping the major pro-family activists respond. This includes strategy discussions, an interview on a major drive-time talk-radio station, a robo-call to thousands of activists, and extensive use of our video on "What 'gay marriage' did to Massachusetts."

Given Utah's recent role as a pro-family stronghold on this issue, it has caught the attention of conservatives across the country. There are 28 other states with similar constitutional amendments. If Utah succumbs, will they be next?

Listen to Brian Camenker of MassResistance interviewed by
Ron Arquette of KNRS radio in Salt Lake City (8 min 56 sec)

BC on KNRS Radio

Reaction to Judge's ruling. On January 2, Brian Camenker of MassResistance was interviewed during the 5 pm radio drive time hour by Ron Arquette of KNRS in Salt Lake City, Utah's major conservative talk radio station (which also features Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sean Hannity). The judge's ruling took the pro-family movement by surprise. A lot of people across the state -- including many in the media -- were stunned and were wondering what the reaction from conservatives would be.

Background: How it got to this point

On Nov. 2, 2004, two-thirds of Utah voters passed a constitutional amendment that defined marriage as one man and one woman, and prohibited recognition of any same-sex marriage-like unions. It seemed like the matter was completely settled.

But as they do everywhere else, when the homosexual lobby can't win legitimately they work through the courts. If this lawsuit is ultimately successful, Utah will be the 9th state to have "gay marriage" forced on it by a court.

On March 25, 2013, homosexual activists in Utah filed a suit in federal court to overturn the state's constitutional amendment on marriage. It was part of the larger legal assault on DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) that year. Like the DOMA suit, it claimed that the amendment violated the U.S. Constitution.

On April 26, 2013, the US Supreme ruled against DOMA using most of the absurd legal claims -- primarily drawing on misreadings of the 14th amendment and the 5th amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- that the homosexual lobby was pushing. That initiated the legal assault on Utah and several other states.

The three week "gay marriage" roller-coaster in Utah . . .

The past three weeks have been tumultuous. Here's what has happened:

1. Dec. 20: Federal judge rules "gay marriage" ban is unconstitutional

On Dec. 20, 2013, Judge Shelby issued his bizarre 53-page ruling that shocked even us. One can see why Obama liked him. He went even farther than the U.S. Supreme Court or any other court, in our observation, to institutionalize "gay marriage." Not only did he completely buy into the 5th and 14th Amendment arguments, but he stated that the right to "gay marriage" was "deeply rooted in the nation's history"!

This right is deeply rooted in the nation's history and implicit in the concept of ordered liberty because it protects an individual's ability to make deeply personal choices about love and family free from government interference . . . Both same-sex and opposite-sex marriage are therefore simply manifestations of one right -- the right to marry -- applied to people with different sexual identities.

This is lunacy and legal nonsense. But unfortunately (as we have discussed many times) it's also the logical conclusion resulting from the weak, pathetic legal arguments that pro-family lawyers have been using. In particular, they consistently have refused to portray homosexuality as in any way destructive or even less desirable than normal, healthy behavior and relationships. And this is where that line of reasoning has led in the hands of liberal judges.

In the Utah case there were two specific factors that (we believe) weighed in favor of the homosexual lobby. First, they managed to get a recent Obama-appointed judge, Robert J. Shelby, who was clearly on the same wavelength as the Administration on this issue.

Second, according to activists we spoke to, the case was poorly handled by the Utah Attorney General's office. During that time the AG was involved with a scandal and ultimately resigned on Nov. 21. The assistant AG who ran the case was not passionate about it, we were told, and did not fight it particularly zealously, declining to pursue several avenues regarding homosexual behavior, states' rights, morality, and religious liberty, that might be considered politically incorrect. He also refused to accept help from lawyers supplied by conservative activists. (On Dec. 30, a newly appointed Attorney General, Sean Reyes, took office.)

Shelby is the first federal judge to use the reasoning from the U.S. Supreme Court's DOMA decision to rule that a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage could not stand. That is very dangerous, in our opinion -- and exactly what the homosexual movement has been seeking.

Shelby was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 22, 2012. Both Senators from Utah, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, endorsed his nomination. Sen. Lee described Shelby as "pre-eminently qualified" and predicted that he would be "an outstanding judge." Obviously, they didn't get to know him very well.

2. Dec. 20: Hundreds of homosexuals immediately request "marriages". Four counties refuse to cooperate.

The homosexual lobby was extremely well organized for this. Within hours of the ruling, they had hundreds of couples immediately go to county offices to get marriage licenses. According to news reports, well over a thousand same-sex couples received them.

However, in four counties the officials still refused to give marriage certificates to same-sex couples in lieu of specific orders from the Governor or the Legislature, along with their concern about the ultimate legality of the court ruling.

Dec. 20, 2013: Within hours of the ruling, homosexual couples pack the offices applying for marriage licenses in Salt Lake City.
[Photo: Reuters]

3. Dec. 21-31: Both Judge Shelby and Circuit Court of Appeals deny requests for stay of ruling. AG orders counties to issue marriage certificates. Governor files request for stay with U.S. Supreme Court.

Immediately after the ruling, Utah Republican Governor Gary Herbert requested a stay from Judge Shelby while his ruling was appealed. It was denied. Among other things, Judge Shelby made the preposterous statement that "public interest will be harmed by a stay" because it would "violate constitutionally protected rights."

The Governor then filed a motion for a stay in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. On December 24, the Circuit Court of Appeals also denied the Governor's request.

That same day, the Utah Attorney General ordered all county clerks -- including the four holdout counties -- to issue same-sex "marriage" licenses when requested.

The Governor then began to prepare the paperwork to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene with a stay while the appeal of the court ruling was taking place. On December 31 that request was filed.

4. Jan. 6: U.S. Supreme court grants stay of ruling until appeal is complete.

On Monday, January 6, there was a pleasant surprise. Justice Sotomayor, one of the liberal Justices, oversees the Utah region regarding emergency orders for stays. She had the option of processing it herself or bringing it before the full Court.

According to news reports, Sotomayor referred the matter to the entire court, which issued the stay without discussion or recorded dissent, thus overruling the Circuit Court's denial. The homosexual lobby and the media were particularly stunned.

5. Jan. 8: Pro-family activists rally, speeches, and MassResistance video and robo-call.

On Wednesday, January 8, the Utah pro-family movement finally came together to confront the "gay marriage" crisis at a lunch-time rally in a restaurant in Orem, UT, a few miles outside of Salt Lake City.

The event was organized by Cherilyn Eagar, a high-profile conservative activist in the state. In 2010 she ran for US Senate in Utah, losing to Mike Lee in the GOP primary. But she continues to have a huge activist following across the state, is a prolific blogger, and regularly interacts with the top politicians there on key conservative issues.

Cherilyn Eagar, center, meets with state activists coming to Jan. 8 rally.

Robo-call from MassResistance. The rally meeting was quickly set up after U.S. Supreme Court stay was announced a few days earlier. Thousands of conservative activists in that part of Utah received a robo-call from Brian Camenker of MassResistance the day before, to inform them of the meeting. As a result, the hall was completely filled!

LISTEN to MassResistance robo-call inviting Utah activists to rally!

BC Robo-call

At the rally, Eagar played the MassResistance video "What 'gay marriage' did to Massachusetts" and gave a speech about how this will also affect the people of Utah.

The MassResistance video is being used to warn Utah citizens across the state!

Also addressing the crowd of over 100 was State Representative LaVar Christensen, the author of the 2004 marriage amendment, who talked about "How we got to this point." Other speakers included the leader of the Utah Eagle Forum, representatives from United Families International, the Marriage Law Foundation, and other state-wide pro-family groups.

Inside the event people heard from a variety of speakers giving them tools for action.

From all accounts, it was a great success -- a jump-start to more organizing and activism across Utah over the coming weeks to re-invigorate the pro-marriage wave that swept the constitutional amendment to a two-thirds vote back in 2004.

6. Jan. 8: Governor announces that Utah will not recognize any "gay marriages"

Also on Wednesday, Jan. 8, the Governor released a statement saying that as a result of stay issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, the State of Utah will not recognize any "gay marriages". That's because the constitutional marriage statute of Utah is legally still in place, he said.

Not surprisingly, the homosexual lobby and their allies in the mainstream media reacted with outrage. The New York Times quickly published an article talking about the "emotional whiplash" and how homosexuals are "feeling persecuted." They quoted one activist as saying that "This is an unprecedented step, which inflicts severe harms on more than 1,000 families."

The liberal media fried over the Governor's decision. It even got the attention of the Boston Globe.

7. Jan. 9-10: Mormon Church releases statement supporting fight against "gay marriage" in Utah, but does not get involved in the court case.

Many people had been waiting to see if the Mormon Church would get involved. And if not, would it support its members who chose to get in this fight?

For many years, the Mormons were a major force in America confronting the "gay marriage" movement. In particular, the early pro-family victories in Hawaii and the Proposition 8 victory in California were Mormon driven, as in some other states. But since 2008 the Mormons have largely backed off the "gay" issue, presumably due to the vicious and inhuman tactics against them by organized homosexual activists. Nevertheless, they did file amicus briefs in the Prop 8 and DOMA federal court cases.

The announcement by the Mormon Church definitely got the attention of the media. See TV report here.

So it was not real surprising on Thursday, Jan. 9, when Church leaders announced that at this time they don't have any plans to file an amicus brief in this case or be active on the issue.

However, the following day the Church issued a public letter reaffirming its stand on natural marriage and the right of its members to oppose "gay marriage" without being attacked. The language, while not confrontational, was quite clear:

Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. . .

The Church insists on its leaders' and members' constitutionally protected right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution. The Church is also entitled to maintain its standards of moral conduct and good standing for members.

It would appear that this letter is important because it gives Mormons in Utah the go-ahead to get into this fight if they are so inclined.

8. Jan. 10: Homosexual activists flood into State House demanding state drop appeal

On Friday, January 10, Utah's homosexual movement flexed its muscles. Over a thousand activists flooded into the State House to demand that Governor Herbert abandon his appeal of the federal court's "gay marriage" ruling. According to news reports they also delivered a petition of over 58,000 signatures to the governor's office.

Over a thousand pro-homosexual activists jammed into the Utah State Capitol to support Judge Shelby's ruling forcing "gay marriage" on Utah. [Photo: Deseret News]

If nothing else, this action was a shot across the bow demonstrating the strength and organizational ability of the homosexual movement in Utah right now. As in other states, they have clearly been getting fundraising and strategic help from across the country. The Utah pro-family movement has a lot of catching up to do, and not much time to do it.

9. Jan. 10: Obama administration: Federal government to recognize phony Utah "gay marriages!"

Also on Jan. 10, the Obama administration added to its contempt for the law (and its militant support for the homosexual agenda) by ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court's stay and announcing it would officially recognize the "gay marriages" that the State of Utah does not recognize. Nor did the fact that the definition of marriage is constitutionally a state issue (according to the DOMA opinion) seem to deter them at all.

To make the point, Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced in an unusual video presentation that same-sex couples in Utah who married will be able to file joint federal income tax returns and receive other marriage benefits such as health insurance for the families of federal employees. The radicals seem to be pretty sure that the appeal is going to go their way.

Coming up: The Appeals Court battle.

It was a harrowing three weeks in Utah. Now comes Phase 2 . . .

The big threat coming is the appeal in the federal Circuit Court. It can take several weeks or months to complete. The homosexuals have a hand-picked team of skilled attack lawyers, plus experience winning these kinds of cases across the country. The Utah Attorney General's office is relatively inexperienced in this kind of case, and is probably as reluctant to take on the necessary politically-incorrect fight as just about every pro-family attorney who wades into this.

And sadly, given the blatantly unconstitutional and "activist" direction of the American court system on this issue, this case will likely have a huge effect on the once-solid marriage amendments in states across the country. Will this eventually go to the Supreme Court? It's not something we want to think about.

Right now, the Governor and major politicians in Utah are valiantly standing up to this tyranny, unlike in many other states. But in our opinion, at a certain point unless the conservative grassroots organizations start to show some strength, there will be an draining effect on the conservative politicians due to the liberal media, pressure from profane homosexual activists, and the void left by the Mormon Church's stepping back on the issue.

We'll do everything we can to help -- and keep you up to date!