Young Utah gay couple become face of gay marriage

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FILE – In this Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, Derek Kitchen, left, and his partner Moudi Sbeity hug each other outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse, in Salt Lake City. The young couple that has become the face of gay marriage in Utah is an unlikely pair for the role. Kitchen and Sbeity were both raised in conservative religious families that shun gays, Kitchen in a Mormon home in Utah and Sbeity in a Muslim family in Lebanon. They each came out when they were 16 years old, worlds apart, and met six years later in college in Utah. They chose to become one of three couples as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Utah’s same-sex marriage to publicly push back against religions that oppress gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

FILE – In this Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, Derek Kitchen, left, and his partner Moudi Sbeity hug each other outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse, in Salt Lake City. The young couple that has become the face of gay marriage in Utah is an unlikely pair for the role. Kitchen and Sbeity were both raised in conservative religious families that shun gays, Kitchen in a Mormon home in Utah and Sbeity in a Muslim family in Lebanon. They each came out when they were 16 years old, worlds apart, and met six years later in college in Utah. They chose to become one of three couples as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Utah’s same-sex marriage to publicly push back against religions that oppress gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

FILE – In this Dec. 4, 2013, file photo, Derek Kitchen, left, and his partner Moudi Sbeity hug each other outside Frank E. Moss United States Courthouse, in Salt Lake City. The young couple that has become the face of gay marriage in Utah is an unlikely pair for the role. Kitchen and Sbeity were both raised in conservative religious families that shun gays, Kitchen in a Mormon home in Utah and Sbeity in a Muslim family in Lebanon. They each came out when they were 16 years old, worlds apart, and met six years later in college in Utah. They chose to become one of three couples as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Utah’s same-sex marriage to publicly push back against religions that oppress gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

In this April 3, 2014, photo, Derek Kitchen, left, and Moudi Sbeity pose together at their home, in Salt Lake City. The young couple that has become the face of gay marriage in Utah is an unlikely pair for the role. Kitchen and Sbeity were both raised in conservative religious families that shun gays, Kitchen in a Mormon home in Utah and Sbeity in a Muslim family in Lebanon. They each came out when they were 16 years old, worlds apart, and met six years later in college in Utah. They chose to become one of three couples as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Utah’s same-sex marriage to publicly push back against religions that oppress gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

In this April 3, 2014, photo, Derek Kitchen, right, and Moudi Sbeity drink tea at their home, in Salt Lake City. The young couple that has become the face of gay marriage in Utah is an unlikely pair for the role. Kitchen and Sbeity were both raised in conservative religious families that shun gays, Kitchen in a Mormon home in Utah and Sbeity in a Muslim family in Lebanon. They each came out when they were 16 years old, worlds apart, and met six years later in college in Utah. They chose to become one of three couples as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Utah’s same-sex marriage to publicly push back against religions that oppress gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

In this April 3, 2014, photo, Derek Kitchen, right, and Moudi Sbeity hold their certificate of mutual commitment at their home, in Salt Lake City. The young couple that has become the face of gay marriage in Utah is an unlikely pair for the role. Kitchen and Sbeity were both raised in conservative religious families that shun gays, Kitchen in a Mormon home in Utah and Sbeity in a Muslim family in Lebanon. They each came out when they were 16 years old, worlds apart, and met six years later in college in Utah. They chose to become one of three couples as plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Utah’s same-sex marriage to publicly push back against religions that oppress gays and lesbians. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Derek Kitchen was a teenager still coming to grips with his sexual orientation when yard signs began popping up throughout his suburban Salt Lake City neighborhood in 2004 supporting an amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Kitchen felt angry but feared he would be shunned if he spoke out to his Mormon family and classmates. Instead, he grabbed a marker and went around the neighborhood crossing out the “yes” on the “Yes on Amendment 3″ signs and scribbling in “no.”

“It was my only way of expressing my opposition,” said Kitchen, who at 25 now laughs at the memory. “It felt like I was personally being attacked.”

The act of rebellion foreshadowed what lay ahead for Kitchen. A decade after Utah voters overwhelming passed that amendment, Kitchen and his partner, Moudi Sbeity, 26, are one of three gay and lesbian couples who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state that led a federal judge to overturn the ban in December.

They will be among a Utah contingent of gay marriage supporters in Denver on Thursday for a hearing before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is mulling whether to make gay marriage legal in Utah.

The couple has become the face of gay marriage in the state and a major

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