Utah State Rep. LaVar Christensen, a
Republican from Draper, has filed a bill that purports to give the
state the right to ignore the Supreme Court's June finding that gay
and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Christensen's bill, titled Sovereign
Marriage Authority, seeks to give Utah sole authority over such
matters as marriage, child welfare and adoption within its borders.
“This bill declares that the state,
while recognizing and complying with judicial requirements, reserves
the right to regulate domestic relations within the state,” House
Bill 393 states.
Paul Burke, a Salt Lake City-based
attorney, told the Salt
Lake Tribune that the bill would wither under a legal
“The bill is useless unless
Representative Christensen is planning to amend it to include a
declaration of secession,” Burke said. “Otherwise, the U.S.
Constitution and its promise of equality will prevail over any
attempt by the state of Utah to diminish the equality of its gay
Christensen said that his bill was
needed to acknowledge “the limited scope of the marriage decision,”
which he said was being applied too broadly, suggesting that he
believes that the decision only obligates the state to issue marriage
licenses to gay couples. Other rights are up to the state to decide.
“Christensen is, despite the court's
ruling, attempting to create second-class marriage for gay couples,”
Christensen authored Utah's 2004
voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to
heterosexual couples. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
in 2014 upheld a lower court's ruling striking down the ban as