Marriage advances in Utah

Seth Anderson and Michael Ferguson stand with their  marriage license. The couple is believed to be the first  same-sex couple to wed in Utah. Photo Credit: Seth Anderson, via Twitter, @jsethanderson
Seth Anderson and Michael Ferguson stand with their marriage license.
The couple is believed to be the first same-sex couple to wed in Utah.
Photo Credit: Seth Anderson, via Twitter, @jsethanderson

SALT LAKE CITY — The momentum for marriage equality continues at the state level, with Utah becoming the latest state to grant marriages to same-sex couples.

The remarkable advance in Utah comes after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled the state’s anti-gay marriage ban unconstitutional on Dec. 20.

“Applying the law as it is required to do, the court holds 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,” Shelby wrote. “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. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.”

On Dec. 23, Shelby refused to put a stay on his own ruling. On Dec. 24, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals similarly refused to stay the ruling. At press time, hundreds of same-sex couples had applied for marriage licenses. State officials in Utah still have the option of requesting an emergency stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, where the request would be heard by U.S. Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She, in turn, could refuse to hear the motion to stay and refer it to the full Supreme Court. As of press time, such a request had yet to be made.

Advances also took place in Ohio, where a judge ruled on Dec. 23 that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black said Ohio’s refusal to recognize the marriages violates couples’ equal protection rights.

“The Court’s ruling today is a limited one, and states simply, that under the Constitution of the United States, Ohio must recognize valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples on Ohio death certificates, just as Ohio recognizes all other out-of-state marriages,” Black wrote.

Appeals are expected in both cases.

In Virginia on Dec. 23, a federal district court rejected a motion to dismiss a challenge against that state’s anti-gay marriage ban.

Salvation Army petition started

Bil Browning, publisher of The Bilerico Project (, has launched a petition calling on the Salvation Army to adopt a nationwide non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Browning, who says he and a former boyfriend were once denied services by the religious charity, has been a leading proponent of LGBT-inclusive changes at the Salvation Army. You can read more about Browning’s petition at


Huntington, W.Va., City Council voted 11-0 on Dec. 23 to add protections based on sexual orientation and veteran status to a city-wide employment non-discrimination ordinance.

Queen Elizabeth II has formally pardoned British mathemetician and computer scientist Alan Turing, who was convicted in 1952 of “gross indecency” with another man. Turing, who was gay, gained fame for his work breaking the German Enigma codes during World War II. Turing was chemically castrated as a result of his conviction. He died of cyanide poisoning at age 41 on June 7, 1954. The death was ruled a suicide.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued a Florida school district for a second time this year, claiming the system is refusing to approve a gay-straight alliance club at a middle school.

Photo Credit: Russell Watkins/UK Dept. for Int’l Dev.
Photo Credit: Russell Watkins/UK Dept. for Int’l Dev.

After years of debate, lawmakers in Uganda have finally passed a harsh anti-gay bill, with sentences ranging from several years to life imprisonment for various offenses such as gay sex, conducting a same-sex marriage, sex between HIV positive and negative people, sex with minors and the disabled and repeated sexual offenses among consenting adults. As of press time, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (pictured) had yet to sign the bill. In Nigeria, lawmakers have advanced a bill that would ban same-sex marriage and the formation of LGBT equality groups, with prison terms as high as 14 years.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.