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Utah: Gay-marriage supporters and opponents square off

Activists urge legislature to ban discrimination against gay couples

Supporters and opponents of gay marriage took over Utah's State Capitol building Jan 28 to make their voices heard on the issue after last month's surprise strike-down of the state's same-sex marriage ban. Credit:

Opposing rallies faced off at the Utah State Capitol building Jan 28 over the recognition of gay marriages in the state, the Associated Press reports. 

Approximately 700 traditional-marriage supporters showed up inside the Capitol building in pink and blue clothing, holding signs with such messages as “Biology is not bigotry.”

A few hours earlier, 300 gay-marriage supporters gathered on the Capitol steps, carrying rainbow flags. Organizers called on the Utah legislature to pass a bill banning discrimination against gay couples.

Gay marriages were unexpectedly legalized in Utah last month, when federal judge Robert J Shelby struck down the state ban on gay marriage. More than 1,000 couples married before the state government could secure an emergency freeze on marriages and order state agencies to stop recognizing the rights of those who had already married. The US Supreme Court subsequently stayed Shelby's ruling, pending appeal, a decision that stopped additional marriages from taking place.

Married gay couples in Utah now live in legal limbo; their marriages are not recognized by the state but are recognized by the federal government. Utah’s appeal of the ruling allowing gay marriages may end up in the Supreme Court.