SALT LAKE CITY — Same-sex marriage advocates in Utah cheered the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Friday that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states, though the state's Republican governor said he was disappointed by the decision that he called a usurpation of state authority.
The ruling solidified marriage rights in Utah 18 months after a federal judge struck down the state's ban on same-sex unions and averted a legal mess for hundreds of same-sex couples who have wed since then.
The state had wanted to keep the ban intact, but the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage in Utah when it declined to take the case last October. Still, the justices could have changed that if they ruled the other way.
Reactions to Friday's ruling varied around the state:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is based in Utah, said the court's ruling doesn't change the faith's views on marriage. "The Court's decision does not alter the Lord's doctrine that marriage is a union between a man and a woman ordained by God. While showing respect for those who think differently, the Church will continue to teach and promote marriage between a man and a woman as a central part of our doctrine and practice."
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said "states should have the right to determine their own laws regarding marriage."
Attorney General Sean Reyes, a Republican, said the ruling makes it clearer where same-sex couples stand, though there are still lingering questions to work through. One of those is a lawsuit filed by a lesbian couple who say state officials wouldn't let them put both of their names on their new baby's birth certificate.
Democratic politicians and lawmakers called the decision a tremendous legal victory. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker recalled presiding over the unions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples the day the ruling overturning the ban came down in December 2013. "The joy we are feeling in Salt Lake City is palpable and I am personally grateful for this incredible affirmation of our civil rights and the elimination of the contrived legal barriers that have unnecessarily divided us in the past," Becker said in a statement.
Marina Gomberg wed that day in 2013, but she said Friday that she and her wife put their plans to start a family on hold until the legal air cleared. "There was always this chance that perhaps what we had might not exist anymore," said Gomberg, board chair at Equality Utah. Teacher Kody Partridge, one of the plaintiffs in Utah's gay marriage case, said that she can rest easier knowing the legal limbo is over and her now-retired wife can stay on her insurance.
While left-leaning organizations called the decision historic, those on the right decried the ruling. The conservative Eagle Forum said it would "destroy American culture." Conservative activist Mary Summerhays said the justices "turned a blind eye to a child's need for both a father and mother."
The liberal Alliance for a Better Utah said the decision was a recognition of rights, not an attack on religious beliefs. Connor Boyack with the libertarian-leaning Libertas Institute, meanwhile, said the court's decision gives lawmakers a chance to consider whether government should be in the marriage business at all.