OGDEN -- Utahns' reactions were mixed on Wednesday's Supreme Court decisions regarding same-sex marriage.
The Court struck down a part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted federal marriage benefits to legally married same-sex couples. The Court also struck down Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California after it had been legalized.
To Marian Edmonds, the news seemed a little like an early gift for her wedding to longtime girlfriend Tori Allen.
"I think I may be cheering a little louder, as a person who flew to New York state to get married this weekend," said Edmonds, executive director of Ogden OUTreach, which offers counseling and services to area LGBT youth.
"We couldn't get married in Utah. It makes us realize how important these rights are. We don't have rights that other states have, and the youth are marginalized in so many ways."
Same-sex marriage are legal in Connecticut, Delaware (effective July 1), the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota (effective Aug. 1), New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island (effective
Aug. 1), Vermont, and Washington.
Thirty-five states have banned or not yet ruled on same-sex marriage.
Utah banned it, and reactions to the Supreme Court's announcements were mixed. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert opposes the court's actions.
"I have long believed that marriage is a state's rights issue. I support and will continue to defend Utah's constitutional definition of marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman," Herbert said in a statement. "I also believe that discrimination has no place in society. I hope we can find a path that protects all from discrimination while defending the sanctity of traditional marriage."
Karen McCreary, American Civil Liberties Union of Utah executive director, supports the move toward marriage equality.
"We are thrilled," she said. "This is such a historic moment, the striking down of DOMA. It's the last federal law that requires the government to discriminate. It's a huge leap."
Adrienne Andrews, Weber State's special assistant to the president for diversity, heard the news while in San Francisco, attending a conference on diversity in higher education.
"I am thrilled with the decisions the court has released," Andrews said, noting that the Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal.
"I believe that oppression against anyone is against everyone," she said.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement on www.lds.org, criticizing the Supreme Court's Proposition 8 decision and reaffirmed the church's view of marriage.
"Regardless of the court decision, the church remains irrevocably committed to strengthening traditional marriage between a man and a woman, which for thousands of years has proven to be the best environment for nurturing children," the statement said in part. "Notably, the court decision does not change the definition of marriage in nearly three-fourths of the states."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, voted for the DOMA in 1996.
"It's pretty hard to believe that the Supreme Court would say that the 85 senators, 342 members of the House of Representatives, and Democrat President Bill Clinton -- all who supported DOMA when it was signed into law nearly 20 years ago -- voted for DOMA literally seeking to injure and impose stigma on gay individuals," Hatch said, in a website statement. "That may be the perception of five justices, but it is simply not true."
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, also opposed the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA.
"I believe that act was a reasonable, constitutional exercise of the federal government's power to determine the proper application of federal benefits," Lee said, in a statement. "If the American people have changed their mind about that policy, then Congress, not the Court, should adjust it. ... I believe marriage is properly defined as between one man and one woman. I hope the Court will respect its own decision and the constitutional rights of Utahns and citizens of every state to legislate in their own states according to their beliefs and values."
State Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake County, supports the Court's decisions.
"Utah must now decide if it is ready to open its arms to diversity and recognize that marriage is good for all society or if our state will continue to discriminate," Dabakis said. "With so many young LGBT Utahns deciding to marry and build families, it only makes sense to recognize those civil marriages. Religious matters, including marriage, should be left strictly to churches, but civil matters should be accepted without discrimination."
Edmonds said equal rights for same-sex couples is a vital goal, but the young people served by Ogden OUTreach struggle with more immediate problems.
"They face issues including suicide, homelessness and bullying," Edmonds said. "You would think the marriage ruling doesn't impact youth at all, but it really does. There is such a ripple effect. At the federal level, marriage is not defined as a man and a woman. That's big. There's a sense of respect. This is just tremendously good news.
"I heard a few months ago that Salt Lake City has the largest population of same-sex partners raising children. For the youth of Utah, this ruling is huge. It's respect. It's acknowledgement. And maybe someday they can have a family, just like anyone else. All they want is the same things as anyone else."