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ADF attorneys file suit against Salt Lake City mayor for invalid executive order

Mayor ordered marriage-like benefits for unmarried city employees
Published On: 10/18/2017

SALT LAKE CITY - Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit today on behalf of Salt Lake City residents in Utah state court to stop an executive order from Mayor Rocky Anderson that extends marriage-like benefits to unmarried city employees.

"Utah law prohibits relationships that masquerade as marriage," said ADF attorney Dale Schowengerdt.  "The mayor's action blatantly disregards state law."

Ignoring the city council, Anderson issued his executive order Sept. 21.  The order requires the city to "amend its contracts with current providers to include domestic partners and children of domestic partners in the definition of eligible dependent" in numerous employee benefit programs, including medical, dental, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

The order defines "domestic partner" as "an individual with whom an eligible employee has a long-term committed relationship of mutual caring and support."  It also stipulates that "domestic partners" must have resided in the same household for at least the past six consecutive months, have common financial obligations, and must be jointly responsible for each other's welfare.

"The state's Defense of Marriage Act and the Utah Constitution clearly prohibit Mayor Anderson from creating this type of order.  He has flagrantly made clear his desire to create a special class for 'domestic partners' nonetheless," Schowengerdt explained.

Utah's Defense of Marriage Act prohibits the state or any local governments from enacting "any law creating any legal status, rights, benefits, or duties that are substantially equivalent to those provided under Utah law to a man and a woman because they are married."

The Utah Constitution prohibits marriage between people of the same sex, and states, "No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect."  Under the mayor's order, the city would give the same legal effect to its employees' "domestic partnerships" as it gives to its employees' marriages.

ADF-allied attorney Frank Mylar filed the lawsuit, Norman v. Anderson, in the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake County.  The full text of the complaint can be read here.

For more information on the battle to protect marriage, visit

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family. 

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