State officials plan strategy if same-sex ruling goes against Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Idaho is considering an end run around the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and taking its appeal straight to the U.S. Supreme Court if the states loses a ruling on same-sex marriage in federal court in Boise, according to court documents filed Monday by lawyers for Gov. Butch Otter.

A federal judge in Boise has indicated she might rule soon.

At issue is a lawsuit filed in November by four same-sex couples -- all women -- who want Idaho to officially recognize same-sex unions.

But Idaho's constitution defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has already indicated it might rule in favor of same sex marriages and some legal observers suggest that might be prompting the state's legal strategy to appeal directly to the High Court in Washington, D.C,

But above all, in documents filed Monday, attorneys for the state are asking Judge Candy Dale in Boise to delay -- or stay -- any enforcement of an imminent ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on the issue of same sex marriage.

"When a judge is asked to stay an opinion they're asked, despite how they ruled, to prevent the effect of the opinion from taking hold until after an appeal is completed, " explained David Leroy, a former Idaho attorney general.

The state's legal motion describes a national atmosphere of "chaos and confusion", surrounding the status of same sex marriages, an atmosphere Idaho seeks to avoid.

But Leroy says requesting a stay before a ruling is handed down is uncommon.

"It's unusual here in that the governor has asked for the stay in advance of the ruling, on a contingency basis to be stayed only if the ruling is adverse to Idaho," said Leroy. "That's unusual."