Federal Judge Sides With Same-Sex Couples Challenging Idaho's Marriage Ban

| by Allison Geller

A U.S. District judge ruled in favor of four Idaho same-sex couples fighting the state’s marriage ban in court.

"From the deathbed to the tax form, property rights to parental rights, the witness stand to the probate court, the legal status of 'spouse' provides unique and undeniably important protections," the judge wrote in her opinion striking down the ban.

Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson are one of the couples that challenged the ban in November, suing Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. They joined with the other plaintiffs and their attorneys to celebrate the win with champagne in front of the federal courthouse Friday.

"The first person I called when I got the news was my mom, and she said 'I'm so proud of you Amby,'" Beierle told the Associated Press. "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."

Beierle and her partner were denied a marriage license six months ago in Boise. But now they expect to soon be wed, now that the federal court is on their side. 

While U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled in the couples’ favor, Gov. Otter has already said that he intends to appeal the case.

Idaho’s state constitution bans same-sex marriage.

"In 2006, the people of Idaho exercised their fundamental right, reaffirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman," Otter said in a statement Tuesday. "Today's decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The governor plans to appeal in the decision in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Evan Wolfson, president of the advocacy group Freedom to Marry, noted that Dale’s decision was the “latest in more than a dozen rulings unanimously holding marriage discrimination unconstitutional.”

Sources: Associated Press, Los Angeles Times