Federal judge overturns Idaho gay marriage ban

BY Chelsea Coatney  May 14, 2014 at 12:42 PM EST

Idaho State Capitol in Boise, Idaho. Photo by Flickr user Jimmy Emerson, DVM

Idaho State Capitol in Boise, Idaho. Photo by Flickr user Jimmy Emerson, DVM


A U.S federal judge in Idaho ruled Tuesday night that a 2006 amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Marriages are to began taking place at 9 a.m. local time on Friday, unless a higher court steps in to stay the motion.

“Idaho’s marriage laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental right to marry and relegate their families to a stigmatized, second-class status without sufficient reason for doing so,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale wrote in her opinion. “These laws do not withstand any applicable level of constitutional scrutiny.”

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has already stated his plans to appeal the decision and asked that no marriages take place until all appeals have been completed. He filed a preemptive motion before Dale’s ruling on Tuesday asking the federal court for an immediate stay if the state’s ban was overturned. The court rejected the governor’s motion.

Idaho joins a rapidly growing list of states that overturned their bans on same-sex marriage in recent months. Last week, an Arkansas judge ruled that the state’s voter-approved gay marriage ban violated the Arkansas constitution. Courts in Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, Texas, and Utah have also ruled state bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

In fact, just two state gay marriage bans will soon be left unchallenged in court, according to the Washington Post’s Niraj Chokshi. With a recent lawsuit in Alaska and upcoming challenge in South Dakota, only Montana and North Dakota will remain.

Marriage equality is currently legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.