Judge strikes down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 14, 2014 at 10:14 am •  Published: May 14, 2014
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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson say they'll be the first in line if Idaho starts issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday.

They've tried before — the couple was denied a license just six months ago in Boise — but now they have the federal court on their side. U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled in their favor and in favor of three other Idaho couples Tuesday evening, finding the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

They were joined by their fellow plaintiffs and attorneys in front of the federal courthouse Tuesday evening, celebrating the win with champagne, family and friends.

"The first person I called when I got the news was my mom, and she said 'I'm so proud of you Amby,'" Beierle said, holding back tears. "I don't think people understand what that means to native Idahoans who love this state and want to stay in this state but who want to be heard. It feels amazing."

In addition to Idaho, federal or state judges in Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, Texas, Utah and Arkansas have recently found those state bans to be unconstitutional. Judges have also ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Dale said the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting at 9 a.m. Friday. 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.

The four couples filed the lawsuit against Otter and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich challenging the marriage ban in November. The other couples are Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers; Lori and Sharene Watsen; and Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer.

Latta and Ehlers married in 2008 in California, and the Watsens married in 2011 in New York. Both couples have children and say Idaho wrongly treats Ehlers as a legal stranger to her grandchildren and requires Lori Watsen to obtain a new power of attorney every six months so she can have legal authority to consent to medical treatment for her son. Altmayer and Sheila Roberston were also denied a marriage license in Idaho last year.

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