Sides square off over judge’s overturn of Utah ban on same-sex marriage

Opponents and supporters of a federal judge’s ruling overturning Utah’s same-sex marriage ban have launched online petition drives seeking support for their positions.

More than 17,000 people signed a petition urging Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R) to let U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s ruling stand, organizer Tim Wagner said.

“What I hope to get from this at least is to get the governor to recognize that there’s a substantial portion of the population of voters in Utah who don’t view this in the same way he does,” Wagner, who created the petition hours after Friday’s ruling, told KSL.

Herbert criticized the ruling, saying it attempts to “override the will of the people of Utah” and that the state will fight it to defend traditional marriage. He urged Shelby to grant a motion to stay the decision until the state’s appeal can be heard.

The Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank in Utah, created a petition in support of traditional marriage. Without providing numbers, spokesman Bill Duncan said the response was beyond what had been expected.

“We don’t hate anyone. We just understand marriage differently and we think that’s a valid viewpoint in the public square,” he said.

Wagner plans to present his petition to the governor, while the Sutherland Institute said its purpose is to galvanize public opinion against the ruling.

Jessica Chavez said she’ll let her voice be heard, too. She and her partner of nine years plan to get a marriage license at the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office on Monday morning.

“(I’m) hopeful the people of our state will recognize the ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional and we deserve as much as anyone to be married,” she told KSL.

Acting Attorney General Brian Tarbet said his office would bring the motion for a stay to Shelby by 9 a.m. Monday. If the judge doesn’t immediately rule, state officials said they would ask the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to grant the stay.

Shelby said Utah’s ban violated the constitutional rights of gay couples and ruled that Utah failed to show that allowing same-sex marriages would affect other marriages in any way.

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