Today Idaho became the latest state with a ban on same-sex marriage to have it declared unconstitutional by a federal judge. Four same-sex Idaho couples had filed a lawsuit against the state, and Judge Candy Dale ruled on the side of their argument that banning same-sex marriage violated the rights guaranteed by the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the constitution. Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers, Lori and Sharene Watsen, Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson, the four couples who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, have a range of experiences: two of the couples are already married, but in other states, and Idaho refuses to recognize their marriages; two couples are raising children together. As long as no higher court intervenes, the state can no longer enforce any laws that restrict same-sex couples from marrying, nor can they refuse to recognize marriages from out of state.
Lifting a ban on same-sex marriage isn’t the same as legalizing it, and couples who want to marry will likely still face obstacles. It’s also entirely possible that a higher court will intervene; last year Utah’s same-sex marriage ban was lifted, but the Supreme Court later reinstated it at the state’s request. Governor Otter has been vocal about his desire for a stay in this case, even before the ruling was made today. He’s declared that he’ll take this case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and if they don’t agree with him, to the Supreme Court. Part of Otter’s argumentation is that an immediate stay is ultimately better for the same-sex couples of Idaho than what’s happened in states like Utah, California or Michigan, where a brief period of legal marriage was later halted by a stay, creating a situation where some couples married before the stay was enacted. This seems like a flawed argument, since most, including the couples themselves, agree it would ultimately be best for them to be able to marry and use their constitutional rights.
Legal battles like the one in Idaho are a reminder of how complex the legal terrain remains for same-sex couples who wish to marry, even after the repeal of DOMA. It seems that if Governor Otter has a say — and he does, as governor — it will be a while before any Idahoans in same-sex couples are able to marry. But this is ultimately an important positive step for marriage equality in Idaho, and with as much perseverance as these plaintiffs and many other activists have shown, suggests that legalized same-sex marriage equality is an achievable goal.
i can’t believe that the governor of idaho is named “butch otter” and isn’t a lesbian but rather is a homophobic man
“The only good part of learning about this was that I also found out that Idaho is governed by someone named Butch Otter. Sadly, he is a Republican dude, and not an otter that looks good leaning on things.”
From aka how I learned that Butch Otter is a real and true name of a governor.
His name sadly isn’t really ‘Butch’, its Clement Leroy Otter, but around here you need a *strong* name.
It is a good ruling, and come friday I’ll be at the courthouse congratulating people assuming there isn’t a stay.
I need a “Make a Thing” column on how to make your own stuffed butch otter.
Butch Otter actually really has a stuffed otter in his office. We should ask him to write a guest column.
Am I missing something or is this following along the same lines of California? If the 9th Circuit Court declared the ruling unconstitutional for CA, wouldn’t they do the same for Idaho?
Depends on the exact wording of the statues and the grounds that they used, but in this instance, I can’t imagine the 9th circuit doing anything but summary ruling on the matter.