Both sides in the case in which Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage is being challenged in federal court have filed motions for summary judgment, and oral arguments are set for this morning in U.S. District Court in Idaho. Four same-sex Idaho couples, two of whom legally married in other states and two of whom unsuccessfully sought marriage licenses in Ada County, sued the state, saying the current ban violates their rights under the U.S. Constitution. Gov. Butch Otter, Ada County Clerk Chris Rich and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden are defending the state’s ban, which voters enacted in 2006. Also being challenged is the 1996 law that bans Idaho from recognizing legal same-sex marriages from other states.
Otter, in legal documents filed with the court, maintains that if Idaho had to recognize same-sex marriages, it would “abandon the man-woman definition of marriage” that “the State and its people believe best advances the interests of children.” The four couples who sued, all women, include several who are raising children. “Preventing same-sex couples from marrying,” they argue, “does nothing to advance these goals, but serves only to penalize and inflict gratuitous injury on same-sex couples and the children they are already raising.”
This is, of course, an extremely hot issue nationally. Since the U.S. Supreme Court last summer struck down the federal “Defense of Marriage Act,” or DOMA, saying it violated constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process, federal courts in 10 states have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. You can read the state’s brief here, and the plaintiffs’ brief here. After today’s arguments, federal Magistrate Judge Candy Dale likely will take the issue under advisement and rule in the coming weeks.