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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

9th Circuit strikes down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage

A unanimous 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel has struck down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage. The panel also reversed an earlier ruling upholding a ban in Nevada; the full opinion is online here. The court indicated it’ll issue a separate ruling later on an issue regarding Hawaii law.

The appeals court overturned both Idaho's and Nevada's bans on equal-protection grounds, finding them unconstitutional. "It looks fantastic," said Deborah Ferguson, attorney for four Idaho lesbian couples who sued to overturn the ban. "It's been remanded to district court to issue an injunction" to allow same-sex marriage licenses to be issued in Idaho. "There should be really nothing stopping the state from issuing them at this point," Ferguson said.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden had earlier vowed to appeal the ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if Idaho lost the case, but they were still reviewing the ruling this afternoon. “We’re working on it,” said Otter spokesman Jon Hanian. “They’re obviously discussing that, probably as we speak.”

In the court's unanimous ruling, Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote that the Idaho and Nevada bans "impose profound legal, financial, social and psychic harms on numerous citizens of those states." He wrote, "Classifying some families, and especially their children, as of lesser value should be repugnant to all those in this nation who profess to believe in 'family values.'"

One of the Idaho plaintiffs, Lori Watsen, said, "It means so much for the courts to recognize our family and say that we must be treated equally. Our son will be able to grow up in a world where the state treats his family the same as other families."


Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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