And the monumental significance of this ruling is that the judge ruled that a state constitutional ban violated the federal constitution and the "fundamental right to marry." Even New Mexico this week said that SCOTUS was unclear on that latter point. Here is the summary of today's ruling:
Applying the law as it is required to do, the court holds that Utah's prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law. The State's current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.
The judge declared that it was irrelevant whether the law passed by popular refernedum or legislative action or how large the margin of vote was. An unconstitutional law is an unconstitutional law.
He writes that the law and the constitution have not changed, but the understanding of gay and lesbian people and that the court must adapt to the change in understanding.
He also said that even if marriage law is a state's area of interest, the state can still not violate the federal constitution.
This is powerful. When address the fundamental right to marry he says that the State claims it is not violating that right, because they can still marry someone of the opposite sex. The judge ruled that this violates the very idea of liberty, which includes choice:
the State focuses on the outward manifestations of the right to marry, and not the inner attributes of marriage that form the core justifications for why the Constitution protects this fundamental human right.
The judge firmly rejects an argument the State made that this is a "new right," the "right to same-sex marriage." The judge concluded that, in parallel to the Loving case, it is not a new right, but the fundamental right to marry, and the point at issue is whether the State can prohibit them from exercising this existing right based upon the sex of the partner they choose. He writes that same-sex and opposite-sex marriages are both manifestations of the same fundamental right.
The judge also, rightly, points out that the ruling will expand religious freedom, because it will allow denominations that support same-sex marriage to perform legal ceremonies that they are currently unable to. I've been making this point for years, and am glad to see it appear in case law. He even mentions the United Church of Christ in the ruling!
He believes that the desire of the plaintiffs to marriage is a sign of marriage's strength, not its collapse.