Eye On Boise

Federal lawsuit challenges Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage

Four same-sex couples from Boise filed a federal lawsuit today challenging Idaho’s ban on gay marriage and its laws that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. The four couples, three of whom are raising children, include Sheila Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, who applied for a marriage license at the Ada County Recorder’s Office on Wednesday, but were rejected because they are a same-sex couple. They have a four-year-old son. Another couple named in the lawsuit had the same experience, the same day.

The lawsuit, in which the four couples are suing Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Ada County  Recorder Chris Rich, both in their official capacities, charges that Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage violates both the due process and the equal protection guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. Idaho’s ban also forbids recognition of civil unions; the sweeping ban was approved by Idaho voters in 2006 with 63 percent voting in favor. It states that “a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

Altmayer said in a news release, “Because Sheila is not recognized as a legal parent of our son, I fear what would happen to our family if I became ill and unable to make decisions for him. If we could marry, we would be legally recognized as a family and would have all the same legal protections as others."

The four couples are represented by Boise attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. They include university instructors, a teacher of deaf children, and a military veteran who served with the Idaho National Guard in Iraq; all are women. The lawsuit asks that Idaho’s constitutional ban and all laws forbidding recognition of same-sex marriages be voided, and that the state permit marriage licenses to be issued to same-sex couples. You can read the complaint here.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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