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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.

Group pushes tax credits to fund scholarships to private, religious schools

In the wake of the Idaho's bitter debate over state school Superintendent Tom Luna's now-repealed school reform plan, the 2013 Legislature could discuss another education policy change that wasn't in Luna's package but could prove just as divisive: Tax credits to fund scholarships to private and religious schools, the AP reports. AP reporter John Miller writes that the proposal is similar to one introduced near the close of last year's session by Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, and is being pushed by Wayne Hoffman's Idaho Freedom Foundation; click below for Miller's full report.

Idaho voters asked to make hunting, fishing, trapping a right

ELECTIONS — Idaho voters in November will consider whether to upgrade hunting, fishing and trapping from traditional privileges to rights protected by an amendment to the state's constitution.

Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, who crafted the amendment, said it's time to protect Idaho’s heritage, especially against the steady pressure from animal rights groups. He says the amendment will protect the hunting, fishing and trapping heritage from future attempts to erode Idaho’s wildlife management laws.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission supports the amendment.

The trapping portion of the proposed protections has stirred the most controversy.

Idahoans Against Trapping launched a campaign against the amendment effort earlier this year, arguing that trapping is cruel and inhumane, and shouldn’t be protected in the constitution.

A “yes” vote supports adding the following section to the Idaho constitution:

“The rights to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, are a valued part of the heritage of the State of Idaho and shall forever be preserved for the people and managed through the laws, rules and proclamations that preserve the future of hunting, fishing and trapping. Public hunting, fishing and trapping of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. The rights set forth herein do not create a right to trespass on private property, shall not affect rights to divert, appropriate and use water, or establish any minimum amount of water in any water body, and shall not lead to a diminution of other private rights.”

Read on for statements for and against HJR 2, as prepared by the Idaho secretary of state.

Adams Huffs About Ed Corridor

Councilman Steve Adams made the following comment to Jon Mueller during discussion of a proposed zone change for the Education Corridor: The whole entire Ed Corridor project got scrutiny from its very inception mainly due to the funding process, the complicated, back door method, bypassing Article 8 Section 3 of the Idaho Constitution for long term capital debt.  Also, using outdated potentially improper appraisal that has brought a lot of questions from the community, it has brought a lawsuit. I am just wondering if you anticipate that this will be the continued funding method of the college for any projects that are going to exceed the fiscal year’s budget.” Later, City Attorney Mike Gridley (pictured) commented: “I know the law suit was thrown out by the court.  There has been no violation of the Idaho Constitution, the funding is legal. … the question you asked contains false information.” You can read the entire exchange here.

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