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Gay, lesbian couples sue Utah for right to marry

Published: Thursday, July 30 2015 6:33 a.m. MDT

Gay couple Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbiety and lesbian couple Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge are challenging the state law that says marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News) Gay couple Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbiety and lesbian couple Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge are challenging the state law that says marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman. (Brian Nicholson, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Three gay and lesbian couples filed a filed federal lawsuit Monday seeking the right to marry or have their marriage in another state recognized in Utah.

Gay couple Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbiety and lesbian couple Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge are challenging the state law that says marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman.

"Both couples desire to express their love for, and commitment to, one another by getting married and obtaining official sanction for their family from the state of Utah," according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

In addition, Karen Archer and Kate Call, who were legally married in Iowa, claim Utah law bars them from being treated the same as heterosexual couples because it does not recognize their marriage as valid.

The lawsuit asks a federal 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.

Wood and Partridge applied for a Salt Lake County marriage license Monday but were denied because they are a same-sex couple. Kitchen and Sbeity applied and were denied a license last Friday, according to the suit.

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

"Utah has long been among the states that have enacted laws stripping gay men and lesbian women of rights afforded all other citizens," according to the complaint.

The lawsuit names as defendants Gov. Gary Herbert, Attorney General John Swallow and Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen.

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