Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, said that the fight isn't over, and that “it's wrong for these decisions to be made by federal judges.”
Lee was responding to comments by his colleague, Utah's senior U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, a seven-term Republican. On Wednesday, Hatch made national news for saying that “the trend right now in the courts is to permit gay marriage, and anybody who doesn't admit that just isn’t living in the real world.” He said while he doesn't “think that's the right way to go…I do accept whatever the courts say.”
Lee said the courts were the wrong venue for decisions about marriage, and policies should be made by the states. “They shouldn't be thrust upon the states by federal judges who aren't elected. They're not accountable to anyone who is elected,” he said.
Lee told a local ABC affiliate that he supports Utah's marriage amendment, which was approved by two-thirds of voters in 2004.
The issue of marriage has dominated headlines in Utah.
In December, the state's marriage amendment was overturned by a District Judge. This set off a legal scramble, with some homosexual couples getting marriage licenses and the state's Attorney General asking the Supreme Court for a stay of the ruling.
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After getting the stay while the state's appeal is pending, Utah refused to recognize over 1,000 “marriages.” Two days later, the Obama administration then said it would recognize the “marriages” when it came to federal benefits.
The case is expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lee, who spent time as a clerk for then-Third Circuit Court judge Samuel Alito and as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, said any Supreme Court decision on the matter would likely be a 5-4 split.
“I'm not sure which way it will go,” he said.
A January Deseret News/KSL poll found that 57 percent of Utah residents oppose same-sex “marriage.” Another 55 percent opposed Judge Richard Shelby's ruling overturning their state marriage protection amendment, and 56 percent believe the matter should be left to the states rather than legislated from the bench.