Federal Judge Strikes Down Idaho's Gay Marriage Ban

2014-05-14T02:00:00Z Federal Judge Strikes Down Idaho's Gay Marriage BanBy Alison Gene Smith alismith@magicvalley.com Twin Falls Times-News

BOISE • A mid-level federal judge has ruled that Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Chief Magistrate Judge Candy Dale has ordered the state to allow same-sex couples to marry in Idaho and to recognize the marriage of couples who wed in other states.

The court’s order takes effect at 9 a.m. Friday, meaning the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting that morning.

Gov. C.L. "Butch'' Otter already has said he intends to appeal the case, meaning an appellate court could still put the weddings on hold.

In her decision, Dale wrote, "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."

Dale calls the state's arguments about religious liberty "myopic."

"No doubt many faiths around the world and in Idaho have longstanding traditions of man-woman marriage rooted in scripture," Dale wrote. "But not all religions share the view that opposite-sex marriage is a theological imperative."

Dale went on to say that the state failed to prove 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."

Otter responded in a written statement, "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.”

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said he would consult with the governor on the state's appeal.

The case was brought by four same-sex couples represented by Boise attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

The couples argued that Idaho’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples cannot stand in light of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling last June that the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” violates the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. This is the 11th federal ruling since last summer’s Supreme Court decision in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, including federal courts in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

The couples are Susan Latta and Traci Ehlers, and Lori and Sharene Watsen, who are legally married and asked Idaho to recognize their marriages, and Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson, who seek to marry.

State attorneys filed papers Monday seeking an immediate stay in the event the constitutional ban was struck down. The state argues that gay marriages shouldn't move forward until the case has gone through the appeal process. That motion is pending before the court.

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(22) Comments

  1. co_ldy
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    co_ldy - May 15, 2014 3:01 pm
    Right on Theo. Why all the fighting? LOVE IS MY RELIGION... ziggy marley sings...
  2. duke
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    duke - May 14, 2014 12:25 pm
    so all of you that want gays to marry so lets have more than one wife ,or more than one husband , and make prostitution legal hey lets raise heck all he way go for it im just going o watch......
  3. SKC_ID
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    SKC_ID - May 14, 2014 10:13 am
    Or what? She will spend eternity in a lake of fire? (Eyeroll) It just amazes me how mankind has created a god with so many human faults. Really?
  4. Ramsey
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    Ramsey - May 14, 2014 6:16 am
    Because they, like me, love Idaho and refuse to leave it to people that would wallow in ignorance. I'm never leaving Idaho. My family and I will stay and change Idaho for the better.
  5. Ramsey
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    Ramsey - May 14, 2014 6:15 am
    If your book and dogma preach discrimination (use whatever wording you want, you know what it is) then your book and dogma are wrong. Slave owners used the bible to justify what they did too. I am encouraged by the fact that the next generation is agreeing with me more than you.
  6. TwinFallsPaul
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    TwinFallsPaul - May 13, 2014 11:52 pm
    My response is not to defend heterosexuals. Heterosexuals are equally capable of offending God. My response is from my duty to speak for biblical truth. For the welfare of homosexuals and heterosexuals who reside in the great state of Idaho, repent of your ruling. (http://www.paulthompsonblog.com/the-mirage-of-same-sex-marriage/)
  7. SKC_ID
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    SKC_ID - May 13, 2014 10:55 pm
    In the end, the United States Supreme Court will rule the same. It's just a matter of (wasted) time and (wasted) money.
  8. SKC_ID
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    SKC_ID - May 13, 2014 10:52 pm
    What, exactly, will be ruined?
  9. Hunter Danyale
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    Hunter Danyale - May 13, 2014 10:50 pm
    So people should just leave their homes, schools, and jobs? Sounds like persecution to me. Also when did you vote for gay marriage to be illegal? It is also not "what is best for us," but what is CONSTITUTIONAL.
  10. johnny d
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    johnny d - May 13, 2014 9:54 pm
    So why didn't these "couples" just move to a state that already accepted gay marriage instead of ruining ours? Leave it to a judge to go against what the majority of Idaho voted for, thinking she knows what's best for us. Disappointing day for Idaho.
  11. Jim_Bob
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    Jim_Bob - May 13, 2014 9:44 pm
    While were at it, lets ban marriage between races, right? Since there's no end to the religious wrongs bigotry. I'm sure we can find some denominations holy text that forbids that.

    "What is next relatives, underage."
    Actually there are a number of states that allow cousins to marry still. And even though someone might be under the age of consent their parent or guardian can allow marriage to happen.

    "Where people in same gender relationships unhappy without being able to obtain a so called marriage license."
    Apparently legally being considered next of kin in regards to medical decisions, retirement and numerous other things, was a pretty big deal to most.

    "A century and a half amendment people are just now finding things in it to allow someone to marry someone of the same gender and overturn will of people. "
    Will of the people, you say. What about "we the people" as in the constitution? Just because the majority in this area are hate filled bigots unable to accept change and support humanity as a whole? Are you telling me Otter didn't see this coming? Please! He's just pandering to his religious constituents with complete disregard to the rest of the people. What ever happened to the first amendment? Like prohibiting the government from preferential treatment of one religion over another? Essentially thats what you are claiming. It's not OK with your religion so it can't be ok with anyone else. I really wish you religies would quit forcing your beliefs down everyones throats and let people live the way they want. If they don't believe in your gawd, they won't be going to your heaven or hell anyway, why do you care?

    "Wasden and Otter you will win in the end."
    Doubtful but keep praying.

    "And though the Devil has one many battles recently on this issue he will lose the war!"
    Ah the devil, an obvious scapegoat. What was it that jeezus said about gay marriage exactly?

    Praise Allah or zeus or ra or buddha! Ramen.
  12. deuce
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    deuce - May 13, 2014 9:26 pm
    Poor Elcty, always arguing the religious angle. Although churches may still be able to refuse participation in same sex marriages Elcty, the state cannot; it is not a religious institution. Your church may perform your ceremony, but someone who gets married on a mountain top is just as married as you-the common denominator is the filing of such union at the county courthouse.

    I doubt this will sink in but I will attempt one more time: THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF A MAJORITY TO PERSECUTE A MINORITY BASED ON THE MAJORITY INTERPRETATION OF MORAL ARGUMENTS that is why your "voter" ballot initiative keeps getting struck down.
  13. elcty
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    elcty - May 13, 2014 8:38 pm
    I guess ballot inititives can get thrown out the window since one unelected judge can find something not in the constitution that they say is constitutional. The 14th Amendment is the most abused amendment to the constitution. Judges used it to justify murder of an unborn child and to overturn the will of the people who wanted marriage between a man and a woman. What is next relatives, underage. Where people in same gender relationships unhappy without being able to obtain a so called marriage license. If so will they be happier if the state grants them one. Since the person who wants us to be miserable the Devil will not support people that listen to him in the end so called same gender marriage will crack under the weight of it's own iniquity. A century and a half amendment people are just now finding things in it to allow someone to marry someone of the same gender and overturn will of people. One unelected judge. Wasden and Otter you will win in the end. And though the Devil has one many battles recently on this issue he will lose the war!
  14. Ramsey
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    Ramsey - May 13, 2014 8:24 pm
    Hmmmm, state supported bigotry got shot down. What's next? Freedom...something you trolls on the right love to trumpet about until it makes you feel "icky."
  15. mine
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    mine - May 13, 2014 7:49 pm
    When something is legalized that is of an un-natural nature what will come next?
  16. Hunter Danyale
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    Hunter Danyale - May 13, 2014 7:33 pm
    Good one!
  17. deuce
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    deuce - May 13, 2014 7:14 pm
    Sarcasm :) I'm mocking the argument that it ruins traditional marriage.
  18. Are you serious
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    Are you serious - May 13, 2014 7:00 pm
    It's about time this state recognizes same sex marriage!!!!! Wooohooo
  19. Hunter Danyale
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    Hunter Danyale - May 13, 2014 6:58 pm
  20. Hunter Danyale
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    Hunter Danyale - May 13, 2014 6:57 pm
    ...what? lol
  21. deuce
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    deuce - May 13, 2014 6:45 pm
    What the French! My marriage is still intact. Isn't my marriage supposed to fall apart ?????
  22. Theo McKinney
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    Theo McKinney - May 13, 2014 6:36 pm
    Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!


    To all you "religious" folks that everyone has been pandering to for FAR TOO LONG: Jesus said two things that call out your meanness and prejudice as 100% UN-godly:

    1) "Love thy neighbor, as you would have them love you". That was His oft repeated message from the God of Christianity.

    Then, in Jesus' famous marketplace rage, where HE WAS CALLING OUT PHARISEES FOR SPEAKING IN PLACE OF GOD, AND TELLING EVERYONE THEY 'KNOW WHAT GOD MEANT BY THIS OR THAT. That’s when he explicitly commanded them to

    2) "render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar's, and to God, what is God's".

    We have no choice but to understand "Caesar" as being the govt in place, and our government in place, says "Equality and Justice for All", "All men are created equal", and there is a right to pursue happiness under the Laws set forth by the constitution.

    So let's review: "Equality and justice for all", versus "Love thy Neighbor".


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