Judge strikes down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban

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by Andrea Lutz, KTVB.COM

khou.com

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 7:10 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 14 at 7:10 AM

BOISE, Idaho -- A federal judge has issued an injunction that will block enforcement of Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage, effective Friday morning.

U.S. District Magistrate Candy Dale issued a memorandum decision and order this afternoon in the case of four same-sex couples who challenged the constitutionality of Idaho’s marriage laws, which voters approved as an amendment to the state constitution in 2006.

Tuesday the four same sex couples who were plaintiffs in this case stood in front of a federal court in Boise to address the media.

"We are ecstatic,” said Sue Latta, a plaintiff in the case. “It couldn’t have been a better ruling, and we couldn’t be happier.”

The couples all live in Idaho entered into an uncertain lawsuit in November asking the courts for the same rights that any married couple in Idaho.

“It needs to be taken to the end until everybody has the same rights,” said plaintiff Tracie Ehlers.

Each of the couples in this case has had their own struggles.

“Technically right now, I’m not a legal parent to (our son), so if I want to take him to the doctor I have to have a special power of attorney from Sharene, and people could question me to make decisions on his behalf,” said Lori Watsen, another plaintiff in the case.

And each same sex couple has their own story.

Amber Beierle had tears in her eyes when she talked about hearing the verdict.

“The first person I called was my mom, and she said I am so proud of your Amber and I don’t think people understand what that means for native Idahoans who love this state, who want to be in this state,” she said. “And we are Idahoans and we were heard and it feels amazing
.”

In her conclusion, Judge Dale says:

Idaho’s Marriage Laws withhold from them a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted. By doing so, Idaho’s Marriage Laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love.

The Defendants (state of Idaho) offered no evidence that same-sex marriage would adversely affect opposite-sex marriages or the well-being of children. Without proof, the Defendants’ justifications echo the unsubstantiated fears that could not prop up the anti-miscegenation laws and rigid gender roles of days long past. Then as now, it is the duty of the courts to apply the law to the facts in evidence. Here, the facts are clear and the law teaches that marriage is a fundamental right of all citizens, which neither tradition nor the majority can deny.


Judge Dale goes on to cite the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection.

Gov. Butch Otter is appealing the injunction. Unless a higher court grants that appeal, Idaho must allow same-sex marriage, and recognition of existing legal same-sex marriages after 9 a.m. Friday.

Here is the full statement from Gov. Otter:

In 2006, the people of Idaho exercised their fundamental right, reaffirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Today’s decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court.  I am firmly committed to upholding the will of the people and defending our Constitution.


 

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