Marriage Equality in Utah! You Can Thank Antonin Scalia. Really.

scaliaThe world has gone upside down. Who would have thought that Utah would be on the forefront of the marriage equality trend? Yet clerks are starting to issue marriage licenses in the wake of a federal ruling striking down the ban on same-sex marriages. And who would have thought that one of the LGBT’s biggest enemies helped pave the way?

No one would ever confuse Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with a friend of the LGBT community. But in striking down Utah’s ban on marriage equality Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby referred to Scalia several times in his decision to support his ruling. As it turns out, Scalia’s scathing dissent against gay marriage also foresaw the exact problem that Shelby was dealing with and gave Shelby important ammo for his decision.

The Utah ruling is a big, big deal. It’s the first time after the Supreme Court decision that a federal judge has ruled on the right of states to ban marriage. This year’s victories in New Jersey and New Mexico relied upon the state Supreme Courts there and had no impact past the respective state lines. Shelby is dealing with federal law, not state law, so his ruling has implications that go beyond Utah’s borders. (And just in case you’re wondering what the 2012 election was about, Shelby was appointed by Barack Obama.)

The problem with the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA was that it left unstated the full implications of the decision. The justices preferred to punt the issue to the states to deal with as they choose. But that creates chaos for couples who marry in one state but aren’t recognized as married in another. It also creates lawsuits, like the one in Utah.

For all his fuming about the DOMA ruling, Scalia was able to see the implications of it clearly (and he hated what he saw). In his ruling, Shelby said that striking down state bans on marriage equality “was the logical outcome of the Court ruling in Windsor,” the Supreme Court DOMA ruling. Shelby quotes Scalia’s prediction in his dissent:

In my opinion, however, the view that this Court will take of state prohibition of same-sex marriage is indicated beyond mistaking by today’s opinion. As I have said, the real rationale of today’s opinion . . . is that DOMA is motivated by “bare. . . desire to harm” couples in same-sex marriages. How easy it is, indeed how inevitable, to reach the same conclusion with regard to state laws denying same-sex couples marital status.

Just to rub judicial salt in Scalia’s wounds, Shelby notes that “the court agrees with Justice Scalia’s interpretation.” In other words, the Supreme Court left loose ends hanging, but it also clearly indicated how those ends will have to be tied up.

The legal battle is far from over. Utah’s attorney general plans to appeal and is seeking a temporary injunction stopping the decision from taking effect. The Mormon Church will hardly keep quiet about the ruling. And Utah is far and away the most conservative state to face the issue, so there will be a lot more resistance than there has been in other states.

But all of that said, the Utah ruling marks a major milestone for marriage equality. If a state like Utah can be forced to admit that its ban on same-sex marriage irreparably harms couples for no good reason, there really is no place left where marriage equality can’t succeed. It’s always just been a matter of time. It may just be a lot shorter time than we thought.

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  • TheNewEnergyDude

    “If a state like Utah can be forced to admit that its ban on same-sex marriage irreparably harms couples for no good reason, there really is no place left where marriage equality can’t succeed.”…

    I don’t know…can you say, Mississippi?

    ‘Murica. and Wal Mart.

  • mada

    Yeah. Mississippi might take a while. I mean how long did it take for that state to ban slavery? What was it? 150 years? I wish I was kidding.

  • guest4ever

    “Irreparably harms couples”

    What irreparably harms couples and families and individuals and communities and nations…

    Is homosexuality.

    Be not deceived… for God will not be mocked.

  • rand503

    In their briefs, the Utah can’t cite to the majority opinion in Windsor because that would tend to validate the judge’s decision for SSM. They can’t cite to Scalia’s dissent because Scalia agrees that the majority opinion also validates SSM.

    I’m sure they can come up with something, but they will certainly have to argue that Scalia is wrong AND the majority is wrong. I’d hate to be an attorney writing up that brief.

  • rand503

    @guest4ever: God is mocked by people like you who think they know God’s will and then can treat people badly based on that. If you don’t want God mocked, then don’t presume to speak for her.

  • MikeE

    @guest4ever: your knuckles must be getting awful raw from dragging on the ground like that?

    Hey! did you know that you can cook meat now? We discovered something called “fire”.

    And in case you really really really didn’t know: God said nothing about homosexuality. Man did.

  • Dakotahgeo

    The angel Moron must be choking on his trumpet right now… I hope he knows more than one tune to play, lolol.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @guest4ever: You’re gay, aren’t you g4e?? Get outta that closet, boy, and start livin’!!!

  • Geoff B

    @guest4ever: I was kind of hoping for 2EO to respond to you since he’s really good at this sort of thing, but here goes. Don’t you have a closed garage with a running car you could besiiting in?

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Geoff B: ROFL… Oh myyyy! Naw… that takes too long… I have this rope he could borrow…. but I want it back!

  • jckfmsincty

    @guest4ever: Silly goose, there is no god. If it feels good, do it.

  • BigWoody

    @guest4ever: Blabbity, blabbity, blah blah.
    Mock, mock, mockety mock. Your god EQUALS MYTHOLOGY. Ha HAAAA!
    Suck on MY idol 4ever, loser. Wah Waaah.

  • Geoff B

    @Dakotahgeo: lol! Reverend, I’m shocked! I mean, I’d expect that type of viciousness from, well, me, but I promise not to tell a soul! ;)

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Geoff B: LOLOL… I think the cat’s outta that bag. We ALL have our dark sides, Geoff. The only reason I retired from the ministry is I ran out of spaces to bury the bodies, heh heh heh (vicious leer!). (And we had a cemetery!).

  • 2eo

    @guest4ever: I mock god a ridiculous amount, yet funnily enough I don’t remember a particular disaster befalling me, or those around me.

    god not only doesn’t exist, belief in it encourages genocide, paedophilia, murder, disease, famine and lack of intelligence.

  • vklortho

    @2eo: I had to stop watching that halfway through because the pain from laughing became too much. :P

  • Cam


    The typical bigot. What is so funny about you breaks down to two main points.

    1. The fact that you continually hang out on a gay blog occasionally posting anti-gay posts is the exact behavior of a closeted homosexual. It is very obvious to everybody on here.

    2. Right wingers have a problem with their anti-gay rants. They claim that homosexuality is harmful, does, this or that, blah blah blah…BUT they can never provide ANY evidence. I could scream and yell that driving a car causes people to grow wings. And I can yell it as many times as I want, but guess what, it isn’t true and yelling it louder without proof would make me as big an idiot as you look.

    Lastly, let me close by saying I feel sorry for you. You are gay, you don’t want to be and so you are torturing yourself trying to prove you aren’t. One day you will look back on this behavior and be ashamed.

  • BigWoody

    @2eo: LOL, oh stop the Benny Hill, 2eo.
    My side hurts from laughing.

    More and more intelligent people are ignoring the evil fables taught for 2,000 years and are starting to allow us our equal rights. All humiliation and mockery is well deserved for the murderous religions dreamed up by man to control the masses.

  • 2eo

    @BigWoody: People are walking away in ever growing numbers, religion is only strong in areas of subnormal intelligence and purposely repressed education.

  • CaptainFabulous

    @guest4ever: No, but you will be! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • the other Greg

    Oh dear. I guess God has been mocked. What is left to say? God has bad taste in clothing? God has a small c*ck? God has dandruff?

  • Rosanne J. Gunter

    as Gladys responded I am taken by surprise that a person can earn $5949 in 1 month on the computer. you could check here…

  • Harley

    Give me more Nick Gruber!

  • Ned_Flaherty


    To the forever anonymous, forever closeted “guest4ever”:

    In multiple state and federal courtrooms, bigots were urged to prove all the dire harms that they imagine could come from same-gender civil marriage.

    Not one of them ever proved anything.

    The usual answer is something like, “We don’t know, your honor.”

    That’s why courts continue to rule in favor of same-gender civil marriage, and against ignorance, superstition, fear, and bigotry.

  • 2eo

    @Ned_Flaherty: Actually the usual answer from christians to a judge is “No sir, I wasn’t aware having 150,000 pictures of child sexual abuse was illegal”.

  • manonyme

    thanks so much for carefully articulating this issue. with the whole DOMA issue, scalia of all ppl striking down and cases being federal or state; I quickly lost focus with an issue about which I should be ever-vigilant. cheers

Comments are closed.