Attorney General Candidates Disagree On Pursuing Gay Marriage Ban To SCOTUS
The Utah Debate Commission sponsored the first debate between the Republican and Democratic Candidates for Utah Attorney General Wednesday night. Both candidates agreed on many issues, with the exception being over a plan to defend Utah's gay marriage ban.
Charles Stormont is the Democratic candidate, and says the legal defense of "hot button" polygamy and gay marriage laws by Attorney General Sean Reyes is a waste of money. Stormont says Utah should not appeal decisions by federal judges last year that struck down state bans on gay marriage and polygamy. Reyes says the attorney general cannot pick and choose which laws to defend.
"I say you can't cut and run. You can't thwart the democratic process because you think that you're smarter than the supreme court. Windsor didn't decide this case, that's why we're taking it to the Supreme Court now. And if my opponent would take off his political glasses for a moment, he would realize how dangerous that precedent is that he's proposing. He's proposing that the AG has a litigation veto, and that will undermine the credibility of the attorney general's office in the long run," Reyes said.
Reyes (R) was appointed last year after former Attorney General John Swallow resigned. Reyes and Stormont are running to fill the last two years of Swallow's term.
During the debate, Stormont defended his belief that Utah should not pay to defend gay marriage laws.
"I've been accused of picking and choosing which laws to defend, but I think it's important, again, that we're honest with the people of Utah. When we pick to throw hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars at a variety of lawsuits on hot button issues; we choose to avoid real crisis in the office; we choose to ignore our child protection division, many of whom have double the recommended case load; we choose to ignore our criminal appeals section, who are swimming. We need to make it clear that when we pick one law and throw money at it, knowing we are going to lose, we choose to ignore children who are in abusive situations, and we choose to ignore the lawyers who are helping to keep criminals in jail. I think it's important that as a legal advisor you share all of that information with your clients and with the people of Utah," Stormont said.
The U.S. Supreme Court could consider Utah's same-sex marriage case during its upcoming term. A decision to hear the case could come as early as this week.