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News >  Idaho

Otter seeks full panel review of gay marriage ruling

BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter wants a larger group of judges to reconsider the recent decision that overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. “I will continue defending Idahoans’ self-determination and the will of Idaho voters who decided that traditional marriage is a core principle of our society,” Otter said.

The governor on Tuesday announced that he would file a petition seeking a review at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by an 11-judge panel. A three-judge panel made the earlier decision ruling that Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden earlier requested that the 9th Circuit assign a full 11-judge panel to hear Idaho’s case, rather than a three-judge panel. That request was denied. Wasden didn’t join with Otter in Tuesday’s petition.

However, his spokesman, Todd Dvorak, said Wasden plans to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks.

Deborah Ferguson, attorney for the four Idaho couples who successfully sued to overturn Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban, said, “If necessary, we will continue to defend the District Court and 9th Circuit decision.”

Otter, in a news release, warned of “increased religious strife” because “unaccountable judges,” not the “democratic process,” were making the call on gay marriage.

“One of the key arguments against the Idaho Constitution’s defense of traditional marriage has been that redefining it to include same-sex couples would not harm anyone.  But the Hitching Post example shows the fallacy of that position,” he said.

The Hitching Post wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Coeur d’Alene, saying the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance would force its owners to perform marriages that they object to on religious grounds. That prompted a fundamentalist Christian group in Mississippi to claim that the city of Coeur d’Alene has threatened to arrest the two ordained ministers who own the chapel – but there was no such threat.

The city has asked that the lawsuit be withdrawn; the chapel recently filed to become a religious corporation, which would exempt it from the city ordinance.

Otter is in the midst of campaigning for a third term; his two leading opponents, Democrat A.J. Balukoff and Libertarian John Bujak, oppose continuing Idaho’s court fight against same-sex marriage, which became legal in Idaho last week.

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