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Utahns react with questions: What happens next?

Published: Wednesday, June 26 2013 7:46 p.m. MDT

"If your state passes a same-sex marriage law, then federal benefits will be affected in those states. But in this state and other states that don't have it, who are they going to give the federal benefits to? They're not married," she said.

Swallow said the DOMA decision allows people in states that allow same-sex marriage to apply for federal benefits, but the ruling did not address that issue for states that do not.

"We're really left to our own argument and our own legal analysis on that issue," he said. "Neither the DOMA case or the Proposition 8 case answered that question … It certainly leaves the status quo in place."

Tolman, who represented Utah Pride in friend-of-the-court briefs filed in both cases, said the DOMA decision raises questions about residency. He said it would come down to the rules made by the federal agencies that administer those benefits.

It will be "real tough" for states like Utah to tell couples lawfully married in another state that they can't have federal benefits that the Supreme Court just indicated need to be extended, Tolman said.

"Certainly, Utah may make the decision that it's not going to extend marriage equality and it's not going to extend state benefits, but even that will come under intense pressure," he said.

Tolman sees the court rulings as the beginning of "nationwide acceptance of marriage equality," though he expects Utah to be one of the last holdouts.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, blasted court's decision.

“It’s pretty hard to believe that the Supreme Court would say that the 85 senators, 342 members of the House of Representatives, and Democrat President Bill Clinton — all who supported DOMA when it was signed into law nearly 20 years ago — voted for DOMA literally seeking to injure and impose stigma on gay individuals," he said. "That may be the perception of five justices, but it is simply not true."

Hatch called the ruling a disappointment because instead of allowing Americans and their elected representatives to continue the same-sex marriage debate, the court "used its own personal opinion to tip the balance."

The senator told a Logan radio station in April that he believes a civil union law giving gay people the same rights as married people would solve the issue without undermining marital law.

Amendment 3

In 2004, Utah voters approved Amendment 3 to the state Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The law also states that no other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.

Three gay and lesbian couples filed a federal lawsuit in March seeking the right to marry or have their marriage in another state recognized in Utah. The suit asks a judge to declare the Utah law unconstitutional under the due process and equal protections clauses of the 14th Amendment. It seeks a permanent injunction preventing the state from enforcing its ban on same-sex marriage.

James E. Magelby, an attorney for the couples, said the Utah law is "particularly offensive" because it goes further than DOMA and Proposition 8.

Swallow said the attorney general's office would file a response to the lawsuit in August.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he has long believed that marriage is a states' rights issue.

"I support and will continue to defend Utah's constitutional definition of marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman," he said. "I also believe that discrimination has no place in society. I hope we can find a path that protects all from discrimination while defending the sanctity of traditional marriage.”

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said the Supreme Court decision on DOMA disappointed him.

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