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Supreme Court hears first day of Prop 8 arguments

By Richard Piatt | Posted - Mar 26th, 2013 @ 6:30pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — People nationwide are expressing strong feelings about gay marriage as Proposition 8, the California ban on gay marriage, goes to the Supreme Court.

For the state of Utah, the question boils down to this: Will the Supreme Court's eventual ruling affect our own ban on same-sex marriage?

If the Supreme Court rules broadly that a ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional, that could affect Utah. However, most legal experts don't feel that's going to happen.

Justice Antonin Scalia said, "They're arguing for a nationwide rule which applies to states other than California, that every state must allow marriage by same-sex couples."

The case is based on two same-sex couples and their argument that it's their right to get married.

Plaintiff attorney Theodore Olson said, "Same-sex couples are considered second rate, different, unequal and not OK."

At its heart, the case is all about marriage in California. Observers find it doubtful the court would step on the rights of the other 49 states.

"I think it's unlikely that the court will step into a state like Utah and say, ‘Where it's traditionally a state's right to define marriage, now we're going to tell a state what marriage is,' " Utah Attorney General John Swallow said.

At the same time, University of Utah law professor Clifford Rosky says a majority of justices seemed sympathetic to same sex couples, particularly when the main argument in favor of traditional marriage centers on procreation.

"They pointed again and again that infertile people and those over age 55 are allowed to marry in this country," Rosky said. "And if the government were to prevent them from marrying, that itself would be unconstitutional."

Wednesday the court will hear arguments about Defense of Marriage Act and the heart of federal benefits for people who have been granted marriage rights in 10 states.

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