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Top Local Stories of 2014

2014 was a crazy year! These were the top Utah headlines:

Gay Marriage:

Gay marriage was a hot topic in 2014. Here in Utah, we flip flopped over it all year long… legal, not legal, legal, not legal… we finally landed on legal and Utah joined 29 other states that have passed Marriage Equality. 60% of the United States now recognizes same-sex couples right to marriage and all the benefits that go along with it. Here’s the timeline:

March 25, 2013: Three same-sex couples file a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Utah seeking to overturn Utah’s ban on gay marriage.

December 20, 2013: District Judge Robert Shelby rules against the state and overturns Utah’s same-sex marriage ban. Same-sex couples rush to county clerk offices to obtain marriage licenses. State files for an emergency stay on Shelby’s ruling and is denied.

December 26, 2013: The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denies Utah’s request for stay on Shelby’s ruling. Utah County begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

January 6, 2014: The U.S. Supreme Court grants Utah’s request for stay on Judge Shelby’s ruling halting same-sex marriages in Utah.

January 10, 2014: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government would recognize and extend federal benefits to all couples who were legally married from December 20 – January 6.

May 16, 2014: The Utah Supreme Court issues a stay, which barred the state from recognizing and extending state benefits to all couples who were legally married.

June 25, 2014: The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court decision, but also stayed implementation of its decision, pending a further appeal “The Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right to marry, establish a family, raise children, and enjoy the full protection of a state’s marital laws,” the court wrote in its 2-to-1 ruling. “A state may not deny the issuance of a marriage license to two persons, or refuse to recognize their marriage, based solely upon the sex of the persons in the marriage union.”

August 5, 2014: the Utah Attorney General’s office asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case.

October 6, 2014: The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Utah’s appeal without comment, allowing the Tenth Circuit to lift its stay. In response, Governor of Utah Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that Utah would comply with the decision of the Court and swiftly advise state agencies to recognize legally performed same-sex marriages.

The Arrests Of Ex-Utah Attorneys General

Utah attorneys general got themselves in a heap of trouble. Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow were accused of numerous bribery and obstruction of justice charges, most of them felonies. The charging documents from the Salt Lake City district attorney allege a decadent lifestyle of private jets, all-expense-paid vacations and veiled threats of violence for those who caused trouble. Busted! Get the details:

1. Luxury Houseboats, Resort Vacations, And Private Airplane Rides

2. Shurtleff Allegedly Had A Fixer Who Threatened To ‘Bust People Up’

3. Swallow Allegedly Offered Access To Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

4. Burner Phones And Secret Meetings At Krispy Kreme

5. Gold Coins And A Pre-Paid Debit Card

The latest on the scandal: Shurtleff’s attorney Rick Van Wagoner recently filed a motion saying Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill has misled the public into believing the two would be tried together, saying “The cases are not joined, were never joined and cannot be joined.”

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