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After years of fighting same-sex marriage, Utah now defending it from bizarre lawsuit

Nick Duffy August 2, 2016

The state of Utah was forced to file a legal brief this week defending same-sex marriage, after an anti-gay activist sued for the right to marry his laptop.

Chris Sevier, an anti-LGBT lawyer who had his license suspended in 2011, claims his right to tie the knot to his computer is the same as any gay couple’s right to marry.

Sevier, who has filed action on similar grounds in Texas and Kentucky, claims that because same-sex marriage is legal the state of Utah must also allow him to tie the knot with his computer.

The state’s Governor Gary R. Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes filed their response to the lawsuit this week, and in a bizarre twist the avowed Republicans who battled against same-sex marriage now seem to be defending it for legal reasons.

Governor Herbert was so opposed to equal marriage that he pursued costly years-long legal appeals in a bid to block gay weddings.

But in the new case, his counsel is compelled to defend the law as it stands – and is now affirming equal marriage.

The brief calls for the case to be thrown out.

But the brief also demolishes Sevier’s claims that same-sex marriage is religious discrimination… which is the exact same argument that Utah also made previously.

It says: “Contrary to Sevier’s assertions, the definition of marriage to include same-sex marriage does not dictate that Sevier espouse a belief in same-sex marriage or punish Sevier for speaking out against same-sex marriage.

“Nothing in the definition of marriage purports to restrict Sevier’s thoughts or discussion of his beliefs regarding marriage, including man-object marriage.”

Elsewhere, the state’s arguments list the many benefits of same-sex marriage , noting that in Sevier’s case “neither the person nor the computer reaps any of the benefits conferred by states as a recognition of society’s support for a marriage, such as:
taxation; inheritance and property rights; rules of intestate succession; spousal privilege in the law of evidence; hospital access;
medical decision making authority; adoption rights; the rights and benefits of survivors; birth and death certificates; professional ethics rules; campaign finance restrictions; workers’ compensation benefits; health insurance; and child custody, support, and visitation rules.”

The brief continues: “Sevier alleges that effect of the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples will be to ‘reduce marriage into a religious matter’ and allow the LGBT community to ‘use [the] government to impose their religious ideology on everyone else, . . . leaving no room for objection’.

“However, Sevier has failed to show that the expanded definition of marriage is a religious matter, or how the religious ideologies will be imposed on everyone else in the way Sevier alleges. Sevier’s allegations are all conjecture.

“Even taken at face value, Sevier’s Complaint falls short of alleging that the expanded definition of marriage to include same-sex marriage will have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion.

“The definition of marriage to include same-sex marriage conveys a message of neutrality: the definition neither endorses ‘secularism’ as a religion, nor does it discredit theistic religion as a system of belief.

“Sevier makes no factual allegation to support his assertion that denial of his desire to marry an ‘inanimate object’ violated his religious beliefs.

“Nor does Sevier state what religious beliefs would require that he be allowed to marry an inanimate object.”

It concludes: “Defendants Governor Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyesrespectfully request that this Court dismiss Sevier’s Complaint in its entirety, with prejudice.”

More: Equality, Gay, governor, Law, LGBT, marriage, Religion, Same-sex, US, Utah

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