FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2013
Utah Pride Headed to U.S. Supreme Court
To Seek Full Legal Equality for LGBTQ Citizens
Utah's LGBTQ Community Center Challenges Utah's System
Of Discrimination and Retains Bipartisan Legal Team
To File An Amicus Brief in the Proposition 8 and DOMA Cases
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Utah Pride announced today that it will file an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the pending cases involving the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") and California's Proposition 8 (Prop. 8). Utah Pride has retained a bipartisan team of prominent Utah attorneys to challenge Utah's system of discrimination and to seek full legal equality for Utah's LGBTQ community.
Today's announcement marks the anniversary of a shameful day in Utah's history against its LGBTQ citizens. On January 30, 1996, the Utah State Senate met behind closed doors to plot against teenagers who wanted to start Gay-Straight Alliances in Utah's public high schools. In the seventeen years since the state senate met illegally to try to thwart high school students from meeting to promote tolerance and acceptance, the State of Utah has constructed a comprehensive system of legal discrimination that profoundly impacts LGBTQ citizens and their families.
The State of Utah has enacted laws that purposely raise obstacles that make it harder to start a Gay Straight Alliance at a public high school than to start a legal corporation in the state of Utah; that demean LGBTQ teens and their families by treating them as lesser than their straight peers; that prohibit same-sex couples from adopting children in need of loving homes; and that deny loving couples the right to marry.
"Our experience has shown that Utah's LGBTQ community faces systematic discrimination from government and in employment, housing, public accommodations, adoption, marriage, school safety, and throughout every part of life," said Valerie Larabee, Executive Director of Utah Pride. "We are excited to have Brett L. Tolman and Paul C. Burke as our advocates to the U.S. Supreme Court. We look forward to the day when all Utahns and all Americans enjoy full legal equality."
Utah Pride's legal team will encourage the U.S. Supreme Court to apply heightened scrutiny to review laws that discriminate against LGBTQ citizens. Utah Pride will also argue that the U.S. Supreme Court should recognize that every American has the constitutional right to marry the person they love.
Utah Pride has retained a bipartisan team of attorneys to challenge Utah's system of discrimination. Brett L. Tolman is the former United States Attorney for the District of Utah, having been appointed by President George W. Bush. Prior to serving as U.S. Attorney, Mr. Tolman served as Legal Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. "The U.S. Supreme Court has chosen this moment to address the rights of LGBTQ Americans," said Tolman. "This is the civil equality issue for our generation. Now is the time to stand up for the principle of equality under the law--for everyone."
Paul C. Burke was a founding board member of the Utah Democratic Lawyers Council. He was honored in 2012 as Utah's "Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year" for his work defending the legal rights of a lesbian teenager who had been abused. Said Burke, "Ultimately these cases are about one of our country's founding principles--that every person is entitled to equal treatment under the law. We will call on the U.S. Supreme Court to bring an end to an era of legal discrimination against LGBTQ citizens."
Utah Pride is a non-profit, non-governmental, community organization that plays the vital role of providing information, programs, referrals, and services to a diverse LGBTQ community in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. Utah Pride seeks social change and advocates on behalf of the Utah's LGBTQ community.