Gay marriage backers, foes hold dueling rallies
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A little more than a month after a surprising U.S. federal court ruling overturned this conservative state’s ban on gay marriage, the battle over the issue hit the Capitol building Tuesday as hundreds of opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage held twin rallies.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said Utah is the epicenter of the fight over marriage and how it’s decided.
“Activist judges now feel no qualms in simply putting forward their opinion as the law,” Brown said. “The people of Utah voted on this.”
The National Organization for Marriage, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that opposes same-sex marriage, held its rally inside the Capitol building with a local group called Celebration of Marriage. About 500 people attended.
A few hours earlier, about 300 supporters of same-sex marriage rallied at the Capitol steps, carrying rainbow flags and homemade signs with messages such as “Love is Legal” and “It’s okay to be gay.”
The opposing gatherings are the latest square-off over gay marriage, an issue that took Utah by surprise over the past month. More than 1,000 gay couples rushed to wed when a federal judge overturned Utah’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in late December. Voters approved the amendment in 2004.
Same-sex marriages continued in Utah until early January, when the U.S. Supreme Court granted Utah’s request for an emergency halt to the weddings.
The state has also appealed the federal judge’s ruling to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is expected to decide in a few months.
While the case will play out in federal court this spring, it could eventually wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.