Utah state attorneys argue children at risk from gay marriage

Tue Feb 4, 2014 6:02pm EST
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By Jennifer Dobner

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Utah attorneys seeking to overturn a federal court decision that struck down a state ban on gay marriage have argued in appeals court papers that prohibiting same-sex unions is crucial to safeguarding the best interests of children.

The conservative, heavily Mormon state briefly became the 18th U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage when a federal judge ruled in December that a state ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

His ruling was put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court, but not before about 1,400 gay couples had tied the knot.

The outcome of Utah's appeal of the decision could, if it reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, see the high court rule on the constitutionality of bans on gay marriage that are now in effect in most states.

Utah state attorneys, in filings submitted late on Monday to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote, "As between mutually exclusive models of marriage, the man-woman model is simply the one the state and its people believe is best for children." A hearing in the case is expected on April 10 in Denver.

The court brief argued that risks to children from same-sex marriage include the emotional toll of growing up without a father or mother because their parents would be of the same gender. It also suggested birthrates in Utah might decline due to adults opting for same-sex unions instead of procreating.

Cliff Rosky, a University of Utah law professor who sits on the board of gay rights group Equality Utah, said the state's arguments were demeaning to families headed by same-sex couples.

He said the American Pediatric Association and American Psychiatric Association and similar groups reject the contention that gays do not raise healthy, well-adjusted children.   Continued...

A box of cupcakes are seen topped with icons of same-sex couples at City Hall in San Francisco, June 29, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam