Daniel J.H. Greenwood

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Limiting Marriage by Constitutional Amendment?

Letter to Salt Lake Tribune, published July 6, 2004 (slightly edited post-publication)

Dear Editor:

The proposed Amendment to the Utah Constitution changes the law to read that “marriage consists only of legal union of a man and a woman.”

Although its proponents contend this is necessary to prevent gays and lesbians from marrying in Utah, such marriages are already barred by statute. Statutory changes are usually interpreted to have some meaning, not to be entirely pointless or purely discriminatory.

It appears, therefore, that courts applying this clause would have to take "only” seriously: to bar everything but legal union from marriage. No more love, strife, commitment, joint bank accounts, Saturday mornings in bed, sacraments and sanctification, or the like. Marriage consists only of “legal union.”

Whether marriage can be changed in this way by Constitutional amendment remains to be seen.


Daniel JH Greenwood