Utah same-sex marriage proponents want Supreme Court to rule, too

Salt Lake City — It's no coincidence that victors rarely ask for a rematch. When you've won, traditional wisdom says, walk away.

But for the Utah couples attempting to topple a state ban on same-sex marriage once and for good, there will be no turning back until their case -- or one like it -- lands at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lawyers for the three plaintiff couples announced Thursday that they will join with Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes in calling for the Supreme Court to hear their case.

It's an unusual move.

But Peggy Tomsic, who represents the three plaintiff couples in Utah's historic Kitchen v. Herbert lawsuit, said she believes the move is a necessary one.

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"Just as the state has articulated: This is one of the most important issues of our time and it needs to be resolved," Tomsic said. "Unlike the state, we believe the more important reason that the Supreme Court needs to take this case now is it needs to put to bed finally this question of equality and fairness."

Earlier this week, Utah filed an official petition with the high court, asking the nation's nine justices to take up Utah's same-sex marriage case.

It's the state's last chance to reinstate Amendment 3, the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban that became the first to be struck down by a federal judge last year.

But the plaintiffs aren't in such dire straits.

Because the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June that Utah's ban on same-sex unions violated the U.S. Constitution, that decision would stand and become law in all of the 10th Circuit states if the Supreme Court refuses to hear the Utah case.

That means gay marriage bans in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming would be overturned. It would be a win for the plaintiffs.

But it's not the win they want.

"If we let the decision by the 10th stand, sure, it resolves the issue for the plaintiffs and other people living in the circuit for now. But people move, people get relocated because of jobs, people travel all across the U.S.," Tomsic said. "It can't be, in terms of their security and stability, that every time a same-sex couple passes a state boundary they might be at risk."

By telling the Supreme Court that they, too, want the justices to weigh in, Utah's plaintiffs are sending another message to the nation: They think they can win, even at the highest level, when they have everything to lose.

[Marissa Lang writes for The Salt Lake Tribune.]

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