A federal judge struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional on Friday, handing a major victory to gay rights activists in a conservative state where the Mormon Church wields considerable influence.
U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby, ruling in a lawsuit brought by three gay couples, found that an amendment to the Utah Constitution defining marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman violated the rights of gay couples to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.
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“The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in doing so, demean the dignity of these same sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional,” Shelby said.
The judge’s 53-page decision barred the state from enforcing its ban and adds to growing momentum toward legalizing gay marriage across the nation.