Federal judge: Idaho ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - A federal judge in Boise has called Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Judge Candy Dale sided with four Idaho couples who had filed a lawsuit against the state and the article of the Idaho Constitution that says the state only recognizes marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The judge says Idaho's marriage laws violate the couples' rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

In her decision, Judge Dale says "The Plaintiffs are entitled to extraordinary remedies because of their extraordinary injuries. 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."

She goes on to say that the state offered no evidence that same-sex marriage would adversely affect opposite-sex marriage or the well-being of children.

She further states that as of Friday morning, and if a higher court doesn't intervene, any laws that refuse to recognize marriages from other states or same-sex marriages in the State of Idaho are not enforceable.

As of Friday at 9 a.m., same-sex couples could be allowed to get marriage licenses. A higher federal court, such as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or the United States Supreme Court, could intervene before then and stop it from happening, however.

Late last year, Utah's ban on same-sex marriage was also struck down by a federal judge, but 17 days later the U.S. Supreme Court intervened and reinstated the ban pending appeals. More than 1000 marriage licenses had been issued before the court issued the stay.

Governor Otter responded to the ruling Tuesday evening:

"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."

On Monday, Otter filed a motion to request that Judge Dale hold off on issuing her ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court had weighed in.

Click here to read Judge Candy Dale's full decision