The Salt Lake Tribune in conservative Utah named the three couples who took on the state's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage as their "Utahns of the year."
Derek Kitchen and his partner Moudi Sbeity, Kate Call and her partner Karen Archer, and Laurie Wood along with her partner Kody Partridge were honored for their part in a federal lawsuit striking down Utah's Amendment 3, which banned same sex-marriages in the state.
In striking down the state law, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, writing, "Amendment 3 perpetuates inequality by holding that the families and relationships of same-sex couples are not now, nor ever will be, worthy of recognition. Amendment 3 does not thereby elevate the status of opposite-sex marriage; it merely demeans the dignity of same-sex couples."
Shelby added, "And while the State cites an interest in protecting traditional marriage, it protects that interest by denying one of the most traditional aspects of marriage to thousands of its citizens: the right to form a family that is strengthened by a partnership based on love, intimacy, and shared responsibilities."
The Tribune notes, "Because of these Utah plaintiffs — who bravely made public their most private lives — the state took an unlikely position among the vanguard in the biggest civil-rights movement of the day. Forever, their names will be associated with a tidal wave of change that swept the country."
Previous honorees for Utahn of the year have been Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank, kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, and Mormons Building Bridges - a group dedicated to "extending love and acceptance" to Utah's LGBTQ community.