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3 couples want to testify against Amendment 3 in appeal

By McKenzie Romero | Posted - Feb 1st, 2014 @ 5:34pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Three same-sex couples, including two who married in Utah while gay marriage was briefly permitted in December, want to testify as the case against Amendment 3 is appealed.

A Dec. 20 ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned Utah's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, but the couples say the ruling didn't address specific challenges they face in the state.

Two gay couples and one lesbian couple are asking to provide oral arguments when the case is heard in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: Lynn Beltran and Claudia O’Grady, who have been together 14 years and married on Dec. 23; Stanford Rovig and Charles Fluke, who have been together eight years and married Dec. 31; and Douglas Wortham and Nicholas Nero, who have been together 30 years but did not marry before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on Judge Shelby's ruling, halting same-sex marriage in Utah.

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The couples say the state is discriminatory in not allowing them to file state taxes jointly, receive certain state pension benefits, adopt or be named a legal guardian of a partner's child, receive inheritance protections or make medical decisions for a partner.

The Denver-based court has scheduled oral arguments for April 10.

In a motion to intervene filed Friday, attorneys for the three couples expressed their confidence in the counsel representing the plaintiffs named in the suit but said their clients would provide "a significant and useful contribution."

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes from the court to file an opening argument that could be as long as 24,000 words. The brief is due Feb. 3.

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McKenzie Romero

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