Evans v. Utah

February 21, 2014

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Utah, and Strindberg & Scholnick, LLC  have filed a lawsuit in Utah state court on behalf of four same-sex couples who were legally married in Utah after a federal court struck down a state ban, but before the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halted marriages from taking place while the state challenged the decision. Although the marriages were valid, the state has announced that it has placed recognition of their marriages on hold indefinitely.

The lawsuit argues that once same-sex couples are legally married in Utah, they gain protections that cannot retroactively be taken away under the due process clauses of the Utah and United States Constitution.

The lawsuit is separate from the original federal case challenging Utah’s marriage ban, which is on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. That case was brought by the law firm of Magleby & Greenwood on behalf of three other couples. The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief in that case.

Plaintiffs:

Matt and Tony

Matt and Tony. Matt, 38, and Tony, 33, are lifelong Utahans – Tony was born in and raised in West Jordan, and Matt’s family moved to Ogden when he was only a year old. Matt is an attorney and Tony is the director of a nonprofit organization that serves homeless families. “Tony and I share the same values, the same love for our families and for Utah, and a similar outlook on life,” says Matt. “Our relationship was built on a strong foundation, and it’s only gotten better over our 11 years together.”

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Stacia and JoNell

Stacia and JoNell. Stacia, 60, is semi-retired after teaching math to junior high and high school students for 30 years. She now works part time at a community college, helping students with disabilities. JoNell, 61, is a painter and works as human resources director at a nonprofit. JoNell has lived in Utah since she was a child. Her family has been in Utah since the pioneer days. Stacia grew up in Arizona and has lived in Utah for all of her adult life. The couple lives on land that has been in JoNell’s family for generations, and many of their immediate neighbors are family members.

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Donald and Fritz

Donald and Fritz. Donald Johnson, 61, proposed to Fritz Schultz, 58, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 1992. They’d been dating since Labor Day, and when Fritz went out of town with his family for the holiday was when they both realized how much they meant to each other. “That was the first time I’d really been away from him, and that’s when I realized I couldn’t let this one go,” Fritz says.

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Marina and Elenor

Marina and Elenor. Marina, 29, and Elenor, 28, are born and raised Utahans, from Salt Lake City and Ogden, respectively. They met nine years ago through friends, started dating shortly afterward, and have been together ever since. Unless you count the five minutes they once broke up because, Elenor says, “She made me ride the New York, New York rollercoaster in Las Vegas!”

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