SALT LAKE CITY — Opposing sides of the debate over same-sex marriage held separate rallies Tuesday following oral arguments earlier in the day in a U.S. Supreme Court case that could affect its legality throughout the country.
A rally organized in part by Marriage Equality USA outside Piper Down Pub drew dozens of supporters as participants held signs in favor of same-sex marriage.
Later Tuesday, a few hundred supporters of traditional marriage met in the Utah State Capitol to rally in support of defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, who helped pass Utah’s same-sex marriage ban in 2004, criticized a string of recent decisions by federal judges to invalidate such bans throughout the country.
"States have freedom to say yes (to) same-sex marriage but don’t have the authority to say no? There are some things we cannot compromise. I don’t believe in court-ordered apostasy in a godly nation,” Christensen said to loud applause.
Rod Arquette, a Utah talk show radio host, said it is time to listen to the will of American voters who wish to protect traditional marriage.
"Judge after judge, judicial panel after judicial panel (have gone) against the wishes of more than 51 million Americans who have cast their votes and recognize the sanctity of marriage,” Arquette said.
But Colleen Mewing, an organizer for Marriage Equality USA in Salt Lake City, said she is hopeful same-sex marriage will become legalized nationwide as a result of the Supreme Court reviewing the contentious issues over whether states are constitutionally required to issue same-sex marriage licenses and to recognize such marriages performed in other states.
"Since a lot of us obviously could not make it to the Supreme Court today we came out her to show support for our cause,” Mewing said. "I’m ecstatic, actually. I think (the case) is going to be a positive outcome."
Mewing said same-sex marriage is a basic right that allows people who love each other to enjoy the same privileges.
“Love is love and families now are composed of so many parts,” she said.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill attended the rally and cheered with other participants as many displayed homemade signs asking motorists on State Street to honk as a show of support for same-sex marriage. Gill said he attended both as a person who supports gay marriage and as a district attorney who wishes to see legal consistency on the issue.
"It’s an issue of fundamental fairness. It’s an issue of no longer being a second rate citizen,” Gill said. “We need a definite answer here.”
Gill said part of his support for marriage equality stems from his own mixed-race marriage.
“Going back 40 to 50 years, that would not have been allowed,” he said.
Robb Trujillo is a priest at Glory To God Old Catholic Church (a denomination not associated with the Roman Catholic Church) that began performing same-sex weddings when gay couples were first allowed to marry in Utah in December 2013.
"It's important that a minority voice has the ability to go before the court for issues (regarding) civil rights and accessibility to all kinds of protections,” Trujillo said. “For children, in terms of inheritance passing on family assets, those protections are important and should be equally established among all classes of people.”
At the traditional marriage rally, Juleen Jackson, vice-president of Homemakers for America, said educating children on the importance of traditional marriage is crucial, with or without the support of the federal government.
"Marriage is not man-made. Thank God for that. We do not need to look to Congress and the Legislature to determine what is right,” Jackson said.
Future generations will remember how citizens rallied to the defense of traditional marriage values, Jackson said.
"We must continue to go forward and fortify and strengthen the home. This is the pattern God set from the very beginning of time.”
Arquette said the gay community must police its own members who threaten the religious freedoms of others by promising to blacklist businesses that do not provide services to same-sex weddings and other events.
"I challenge the silent majority of the gay community to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough. You do not represent who we are,” he said.
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