Key GOP lawmakers in Utah are on board
with a plan to spend as much as $2 million in outside counsel to
defend the state's gay marriage ban.
In 2004, 65.8 percent of voters
approved Amendment 3, which prohibits the state from recognizing any
union other than a heterosexual marriage.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby
earlier this month declared the amendment invalid, which led to a
rush of gay and lesbian couples marrying in Utah.
than 900 gay couples tie the knot in Utah.)
After the state was denied four
requests for a stay by three judges, including two at the appellate
level, it announced that it would hire outside counsel before asking
the U.S. Supreme Court to block the ruling as an appeal moves
“We need the best we can get,”
House Speaker Becky Lockhart, a Republican from Provo, is quoted as
saying by Salt
Lake City's KSL TV.
Incoming Attorney General Sean Reyes
met with House leaders on Friday to lay out his strategy.
“To go through the court process on
an issue that on a 2-to-1 vote the people of our state felt was
important to have in our constitution, I think is of value,”
Lockhart said after meeting with Reyes.
Senate President Wayne Niederhauser,
also a Republican, who has yet to talk with Reyes, has also signed
off on the additional expenditure, at least in principle.
“This is a big deal for the
Legislature and for Utah,” Niederhauser said. “We want the
details, but my guess is that our body, the Senate Majority Caucus,
is going to be very supportive of that idea.”
Republican Senator John Valentine
agreed: “We should be paying for the best and the brightest. This
is a case that is not only a historic precedent, but it's one that
really goes to the core of what state's rights is all about.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, criticized the move.
“Defending discrimination while
spending millions of taxpayer dollars to do it is beyond
explanation,” the group said in a statement. “It should be an
affront to all Utahans that their hard-earned tax dollars – dollars
that should be going into schools, roads or health programs – will
instead be used to be on the wrong side of history.”
“It's time to end this waste of
public resources and allow couples to continue experiencing the joy
of marriage,” the group added.