TIME Gay Rights

Utah Will Appeal Gay Marriage Ruling in Supreme Court

Appeals Court Overturns Same Sex Marriage Ban In Utah
Laurie Wood, (L) and her partner Kody Partridge hold hands at a press conference after the 10th Circuit Court in Denver rejected a same-sex marriage ban in Utah on June 25, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. George Frey—Getty Images

Utah has decided to go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court to argue against gay marriage

(SALT LAKE CITY) —€” Utah has decided to go straight to the U.S. Supreme Court to argue against gay marriage, meaning the nation’s highest court will have at least one same-sex marriage case on its plate when it returns in October.

The office of the Utah attorney general announced Wednesday that it would bypass a full appeals court and take the gay marriage case to the Supreme Court instead.

If the U.S. Supreme court decides to take the case, it will be the first time the top court considers gay marriage since justices last year struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The high court is under no obligation to the take the case, and it could wait for rulings from one or more of the five other appellate courts with gay marriage cases pending, legal scholars say.

Utah’s appeal is of a June 25 ruling from a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which found states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they choose partners of the same sex. The panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.

The Utah case is certain to pique the Supreme Court’s interest, but the justices usually look for cases that involve split rulings from federal appeals courts, said Douglas NeJaime, a University of California-Irvine law professor.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about Virginia’s ban in early May, and a ruling is expected soon. Arguments are scheduled for August and September in two different courts for cases out of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada and Idaho.

“My best guess it that the court will hang onto this for a while and see what happens,” NeJaime said. “There are so many cases now, it will have a pick.”

William Eskridge, a Yale University law professor, also doesn’t expect a quick decision from the high court. The Supreme Court is under no deadline to make a decision and knows other appellate decisions are coming, he said.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office said in a statement the appeal will be filed in the coming weeks, to get “clarity and resolution” on the matter. The decision to go directly to the Supreme Court means a review from the entire 10th Circuit Court is off the table, no matter what the high court decides.

Gov. Gary Herbert has said the state already budgeted for a need to defend the law before the Supreme Court. It is expected to cost another $300,000 to have three outside attorneys handle the case — the same amount it cost to take the case to the federal appeals court.

The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling last summer allowed married same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits as other married people, but did not specifically address whether gay marriage is a constitutional right.

Since then, lower courts have repeatedly cited the decision when striking down gay marriage bans. The latest such ruling was Wednesday, when a state judge struck down Colorado’s gay marriage ban. That ruling is on hold pending an appeal.

In the Utah case, the 10th Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision that overturned a 2004 voter-approved gay marriage ban. More than 1,000 same-sex couples wed in Utah after the ban was struck down and before the Supreme Court issued a stay.

The same thing happened in Indiana, where several hundred same-sex couples married during a two-day window in June. On Wednesday, Indiana state officials said they won’t recognize those marriages — the same decision Utah made.

The conservative Sutherland Institute of Utah applauded the state for appealing to the highest court, saying in a statement that it gives states the chance to “defend marriage as society’s way to encourage a married mother and father for every child.”

Plaintiff Moudi Sbeity called the decision to take the case to the Supreme Court “wonderful news.” He and his partner, Derek Kitchen, are one of three couples who sued over Utah’s gay marriage ban.

“We are one step closer toward having our families recognized in our home state,” Sbeity said. “It’s definitely a case our Supreme Court needs to hear. The faster we can move on this, the better for all of us.”

TIME Utah

Utah to Appeal Gay Marriage Ruling to High Court

(SALT LAKE CITY) — Utah is going straight to the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal a federal appeals court’s ruling that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, the state attorney general’s office announced Wednesday.

The state opted to challenge the decision with the nation’s highest court rather than request a review from the entire 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. That option is now off the table, no matter what the high court decides.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office said in a statement the appeal will be filed in the coming weeks. “Attorney General Reyes has a sworn duty to defend the laws of our state,” the statement said.

The Supreme Court is under no obligation to hear the appeal, and there is no deadline to make a decision, said William Eskridge, a law professor at Yale University. The three-judge 10th Circuit panel put its June 25 ruling on hold pending an appeal.

The Utah case is certain to pique the Supreme Court’s interest, but the justices usually look for cases that involve split rulings from federal appeals courts, said Douglas NeJaime, a University of California-Irvine law professor. The court may wait and take up the matter after one or more of the five other appeals courts with pending gay marriage cases has ruled.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments about Virginia’s ban in early May, and a ruling is expected soon. Arguments are scheduled for August and September in two different courts for cases out of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Nevada and Idaho.

Eskridge doesn’t expect a quick decision from the high court.

“Why make a decision on the Utah case until they see what the other circuits are going to do?” Eskridge said.

TIME

Utah Man Sent to Jail for Fight Over Church Seats

OGDEN, Utah — A 52-year-old man accused of punching another man and hitting him with his car in a dispute over pew space in Utah has been ordered to spend 30 days in jail.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports Wayne Dodge was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. He was also ordered to complete an anger management class and pay a fine.

Weber County deputies say the fight happened last June at a Mormon meetinghouse during a crowded service that included a baby blessing and a missionary farewell.

Authorities say Dodge sat in a section that another family had saved in hopes of getting a good view of the baby blessing.

Dodge is accused of punching the man after the service, and striking him with his vehicle in the parking lot.

 

 

TIME

Utah to Appeal Gay Marriage Case to Supreme Court

DENVER (AP) — Utah’s attorney general plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a ruling Wednesday that found states must allow gay couples to marry.

Republican Sean Reyes’ office said in a statement Wednesday it will file a petition to have the country’s highest court review the decision by a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

The office also left open the possibility of requesting a review from the full panel of judges at the 10th Circuit.

The attorney general’s office says even though the 10th Circuit ruling went against Utah, the state is pleased that it moves the important issue one step closer to the Supreme Court.

TIME Utah

Explosion at Civil War Re-Enactment Sends 3 Children to Hospital

Authorities say the children are in stable condition after a spark from a cannon set off nearby ammunition

Three children were sent to the hospital after a cannon caused an explosion at a Civil War re-enactment event in Orem, Utah. Two of the three children were engulfed in flames when the blast occurred at the beginning of a parade, KUTV reports.

“When the flames went up in the air, these three children started crying. One little girl’s clothes were on fire, we’re told,” witness Brittany Tait told the local station. “People were running with water to douse her.”

When the cannon was fired, a spark landed on additional ammunition and triggered the explosion, according to a statement from Orem’s Department of Public Safety. Authorities did not elaborate on the children’s injuries but said their conditions were stable as they were taken to a hospital nearby.

[KUTV]

TIME U.S.

This Is The Nerdiest State in America

Trekkies, Doctor Who lovers, and Dungeons & Dragons role-players take heed: this study claims to have found your natural habitat

Utah is known for many things: the Great Salt Lake, its high Mormon population, hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics and, now, being the ultimate nerd capital of the United States, apparently.

Real estate website Estately published a list of the nerdiest states in America this week and the Beehive State came out on top, followed closely by Alaska, Wyoming and Idaho. On the other end, Washington, D.C., Mississippi and New Jersey were named the least nerdy.

Estately created the list by calculating the percentage of users in each state, plus the District of Columbia, who listed one of the following as an interest on Facebook: cosplay, anime movies, fantasy lit, comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, LARPing, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Magic: The Gathering, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The data revealed a few trends: Nerds prefer less-populated, more rural states over places like California, New York, Texas and Florida, and they also seem to avoid the South like the plague.

There are some issues with the list, however. For starters, anyone who thinks Washington, D.C. is the least nerdy place in the country has clearly not spent much time in the land where people openly identify as “policy wonks.”

Second, because the list is determined by Facebook interests, it only charts the openly nerdy among us — Mississippi may not seem like a nerd paradise, but for all we know, it could have the largest secret network of social media-averse Dungeons & Dragons players meeting up in the dead of night to roll their polyhedral dice in peace.

TIME Tourism

Ski Resorts Want You to Pay for Next Season’s Skiing Right Now

Resorts are trying to get skiers locked in as loyal guests next season—and simultaneously keep them away from competitor mountains—with major deals for early-bird purchases.

America’s biggest ski resorts are at it again. For a variety of reasons, starting with recent seasons of less-than-stellar snow and ending with increasingly aggressive tactics in the pursuit of customer loyalty throughout the industry, resort companies are upping their game to convince skiers and boarders that they should pay for next season’s skiing mere days after the current season has ended.

And how do they get customers to commit so far in advance? By waving special offers that are often so good customers can’t refuse.

Two of the industry’s biggest players, Vail Resorts and Intrawest, make it easy even for those who are currently struggling to pay off credit card bills related to the ski season just in the rear-view mirror, by allowing customers to lock in pass prices now with only a $49 down payment. Once that’s been paid, the company has your credit card information—and before next ski season begins, your card will automatically be charged for the balance.

Vail, which owns and operates ten major ski resorts, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Heavenly, and Kirkwood, offers a wide variety of passes. The unrestricted Epic Pass is at the top price-wise, running $729 (up $40 from special prices available last summer), with a range of cheaper options for special buyer categories (kids, seniors, college students) and for skiers who can live with more restrictions (blackout dates, fewer resorts, etc.). Considering that a single-day walkup ticket can run well over $100 at a place like Vail, it’s easy to see how these season passes are well worth the money for even a moderate skier who figures to log in, say, 10 or 12 days of making turns each winter.

For diehards putting in a few dozen days per season on the mountain, these passes are no-brainers. They’re probably even underpriced. Why, then, do ski companies keep prices so low?

The big reason is that they want skiers to commit their money—and their loyalty—early, long before anyone can tell if the season’s snow will be good or bad (and potentially not worth the trip at all). They also want customers to commit because doing so largely eliminates the possibility that these skiers will wind up spending a day, let alone an entire week’s vacation, at a competitor resort. After you’ve already coughed up a few hundred bucks for a pass, after all, you’ll want to use it rather than paying more money out of pocket.

The ski companies are also well aware of the powerful trickle-down effect of selling one pass. The likely result is that the passholder will wind up spending money in resort-area restaurants, bars, and hotels, perhaps over the course of seven, ten, or many more days. And pass purchases beget pass purchases, as skiers and boarders tend to buy passes at the same places as their skier and boarder family and friends.

In fact, the Intrawest Passport pushes group sales by directly incentivizing family and friends to buy their passes together. One adult pass, which grants six days of mountain access at each of the company’s six North American resorts (including Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Stratton in Vermont, and Tremblant in Quebec), costs $589. But up to five additional adult passes purchased at the same time cost $449 each, and up to five kids ages 12 and under are totally free. The deal gets more appealing when you add more people to the mix—and bringing more customers to Intrawest’s resorts is exactly what the company wants.

Each of the many ski pass programs in North America features different price points and inclusions, but they all have one thing in common: They want your money asap. Intrawest is only guaranteeing current pricing through April 30. The Mountain Collective, which provides two days apiece at resorts like Whistler-Blackcomb and Aspen-Snowmass and 50% off the regular rate thereafter, is throwing in an extra free day at your choice of mountains for a vague “while supplies last” period. The Mountain Collective pass is now $359, up from $349 last season, and runs $99 for kids 12 and under.

Another pass partnership, the Powder Alliance, hasn’t announced its policies for the upcoming season yet. If they remained unchanged from 2013-2014, all season passholders from a dozen resorts will automatically get three free days each at all of the other participating resorts, including Stevens Pass in Washington, Crested Butte in Colorado, Snowbasin in Utah, and Schweitzer in Idaho. And yes, you can expect discounts for buying passes early. The pricing at Schweitzer, for instance, generally calls for 2014-2015 passes to rise by $100 as of June 1. The takeaway is pretty obvious: Smart skiers will want to lock in a lower price now.

TIME Crime

Utah Mother Admits to Killing Six Of Her Infant Children

Seven Dead Babies Arrest
Police tape surrounds the Utah home of Megan Huntsman, who admitted to killing six of her infant children and hiding their bodies Rick Bowmer—AP

Authorities have set bail at $6 million for Megan Huntsman, 39, who has admitted to killing 6 of the 7 infant children whose bodies were found at her home near Salt Lake City that she shared with her husband, who police say is not suspected of any involvement

The Utah woman accused of killing six of her infant children has admitted to the crime and been given $6 million bail.

Megan Huntsman, 39, has been cooperating with detectives, said Pleasant Grove Police Lieutenant Britt Smith, who was not at liberty to disclose the woman’s motive.

“It’s just an absolutely heinous crime that’s going to leave everybody asking, ‘why,’ even when they hear the motive,” Smith told Reuters.

The dreadful story unfolded when Huntsman’s estranged husband discovered the body of a baby in a cardboard box, stuffed into a cabinet in a garage along with six others. Huntsman had apparently been keeping her pregnancies secret, then strangled or suffocated the infant children directly after giving birth to them, before wrapping up the bodies and hiding them.

Authorities believe one of the babies was stillborn. The bail sum represents a one million dollars each for the other six infants.

The case will be heard on April 21.

TIME Crime

Woman Arrested After 7 Dead Babies Found in Utah Home

Megan Huntsman at Pleasant Grove County Jail in Pleasant Grove, Utah on April 13, 2014.
Megan Huntsman at Pleasant Grove County Jail in Pleasant Grove, Utah on April 13, 2014. Pleasant Grove County Jail/Reuters

A woman was arrested after seven bodies, thought to be children she gave birth to between 1996 and 2006, were found in cardboard boxes in her home near Salt Lake City that she shares with her husband, who police say is not suspected of any involvement

A woman was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of killing seven babies found dead in her former home, south of Salt Lake City.

The grisly discovery was made in the former abode of Megan Huntsman, 39. On Monday, police released a probable cause statement in which Huntsman confirmed to authorities that she gave birth to the seven babies between 1996 and 2006, and that she either strangled or suffocated them as soon as they were born. She then wrapped them in a towel or shirt, put them in a plastic bag, and placed them in boxes in her garage. Six of the seven babies were born alive, one was stillborn.

Her husband, believed to be the father of the infants, apparently alerted police after stumbling across one in a cardboard box. The six other corpses were discovered once officers arrived at the scene.

So far, police have not commented on either a motive or Huntsman’s reaction to her arrest. Police Captain Michael Roberts has said the husband, who the Associated Press reports is named Darren West, is not suspected of any involvement.

Huntsman’s three daughters, aged around 13 to 20, are still understood to live with their father at the house.

The bodies are currently at the state medical examiner’s office in Salt Lake City, where they are undergoing tests to reveal the cause of death and the parentage of the deceased.

[AP]

TIME Wellbeing

Study Names Provo, Utah Most Feelgood City In America

Washington State v BYU
BYU fans cheer during a game against Washington State in 2012 in Provo, Utah. George Frey—Getty Images

A new Gallup survey of 189 American communities finds that people's overall well-being is generally higher in the Midwest and West—especially California, Colorado and Utah—but lower in the South. Hint: the top city is also one of the most religious

The secret to happiness might just be good, clean living.

Provo-Orem, Utah, ranked number one in the United States for overall wellbeing in a Gallup survey of 189 American cities released Tuesday. In the past, Gallup has also found that Provo is the most religious city in America—religiosity seems to correlate with higher levels of wellbeing in general—and that Utah has the lowest smoking rate among all 50 states. Boulder and Fort Collins, Colo., come in at the number two and three spots, and three of the top ten highest overall wellbeing communities in America are in California.

The place with the lowest level of wellbeing—a composite index of six metrics: life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors, and access to basic necessities—is the Ashland-Huntington area, where Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia meet. The region has seen hard times as its economic fate has declined with the coal industry in recent years. Kentucky and West Virginia are also the two states with the highest smoking rates in the country.

Among metro areas of one million or more in the U.S., the San Francisco Bay and Washington, D.C. areas score highest in Gallup’s well-being index. Perhaps unsurprisingly, residents of these two regions also told Gallup they felt the most confident about the economic prospects of the U.S. in a recent poll. And it’s not just that Americans in D.C. and San Francisco are glass-half-full people—their glasses really are half full, or fuller, as residents of two of the wealthiest population centers in the country.

[Gallup]

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