Thousands Gather at City and County Building to Support Same-Sex Marriage

Crowds gather at the City and County Building Monday to support marriage equality.
Crowds gather at the City and County Building Monday to support marriage equality.

Members and allies of Utah’s LGBT community congregated in downtown Salt Lake City’s Washington Square Monday evening to celebrate Friday’s court decision striking down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Amendment 3, first passed by a statewide vote in 2004, was declared unconstitutional Friday by U.S. Federal District Judge Robert Shelby. In his ruling, Shelby found that the law violated the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

The rally, which drew an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people downtown, was planned and hosted by Restore Our Humanity, the group that hired the legal team to represent the plaintiffs in the suit challenging Amendment 3.

The rally started with a surprise: the wedding of Clyde Peck, a member of Restore Our Humanity’s board, and his partner Stan Trujillo. The ceremony was performed by Bob Henline, an Assistant Editor at QSaltLake and former Utah Stonewall Democrats board member.

Speakers at the rally included Restore Our Humanity’s Mark Lawrence and Matt Spencer, Equality Utah board chair and University of Utah law professor Cliff Rosky, KRCL’s Troy Williams, and Jennifer Fraser Parrish, one of the attorneys who worked on the case.

The speakers congratulated the crowd for being a part of the “biggest victory in the history of the gay rights movement.” “Mission accomplished!,” said Lawrence. “Today and forever you are the true heroes of the civil rights movement,” said Rosky. It was also announced that Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center will be joining the lawsuit.

The court’s decision is being appealed by the State of Utah. The Attorney General’s Office requested an emergency stay from the 10th Circuit Court in Denver late Friday evening. It was denied Sunday. They also requested a stay from Judge Shelby, which he denied Monday morning. They have filed another request for an emergency stay with the 10th Circuit Court, which is expected to be ruled on shortly.

Conservative organizations opposed to Shelby’s decision have largely rallied online. Groups such as the Sutherland Institute have circulated digital petitions asking people to show their support for traditional marriage. Prior to Governor Herbert’s decision to tap Sean Reyes for Attorney General, conservative activists such as Cherilyn Eager were calling on the Governor to select Robert Smith as the next AG, in part because Smith because was seen as a strong advocate for “traditional” marriage.