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Federal judge with 'hands full' to rule on challenge to Utah's gay marriage ban in early 2014

Ruling by Judge Robert J Shelby will be first on a state ban since the Supreme Court struck down part of Defense of Marriage Act
US District Judge Robert_J_Shelby

Will Utah's ban on same-sex marriage, passed by voters in 2004, be struck down by a federal judge?

It could happen.

US District Judge Robert J. Shelby heard arguments on Wednesday (4 December) from both sides of a case challenging the ban.

His ruling, expected in early 2014, will be the first on a state marriage ban since the US Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June.

The Associated Press reports that about 100 people packed into the federal courtroom to hear the arguments and that after, Shelby said he has his 'hands full' with the case.

Peggy Tomsic, attorney for the six plaintiffs, argued that marriage is a fundamental right.

'This is the time and this is the place for this court to make it clear that the 14th Amendment is alive and well, even in Utah,' she said.

Attorneys for the state argued for the ban to be upheld saying the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA does not give gay couples the universal right to marry in every state.

But much of the hearing focused on the state's contention that a same-sex marriage ban assists wit 'responsible procreation' provides 'optimal mode of child-rearing.'

Tomsic pointed out that there are an estimated 3,000 children in Utah being raised in homes with same-sex parents. She said the marriage ban only hurts them.

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