SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah has become the latest state to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold state and federal laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
Utah Attorney General John Swallow filed two friend of the court briefs asking the high court to overturn lower court rulings that struck down California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
Proposition 8, the state constitutional ban on gay marriage that voters adopted in 2008, was struck down by a panel of judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012.
Four federal district courts and two appeals courts have struck down a provision of DOMA that defines marriage as between a man and woman for the purpose of deciding who can receive a range of federal benefits.
"Traditional marriage is the bedrock foundation for families and society," Swallow said in a statement. "As part of my promise to protect Utah families, we will fight to make sure traditional marriage is protected and preserved."
His action came days after The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in conjunction with other faiths, filed friend of the court briefs in support of the state and federal laws.
Utah joins 18 other states in challenging the Proposition 8 ruling and 16 other states in defending DOMA.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the two cases in March, and to issue decisions by the end of June.
The high court's decision to hear the cases gives it the chance to say whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.
Utah is among 40 states that define marriage as between a man and woman. Utah voters also amended the state's constitution to ban gay marriage in 2004.