9th Circuit: Idaho Same-Sex Marriage Ban is Archaic, Unjustifiable and Unconstitutional

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Saying that Idaho's ban of same-sex marriage "unjustifiably discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation," the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, Oct. 7 that the ban was indeed unconstitutional.

9th Circuit judges ruled that Idaho's same-sex marriage ban draws on "archaic and stereotypical notions about the purportedly distinctive roles and abilities of men and women."

In the case of Latta v. State of Idaho, the panel heard from Monte Neil Stewart, the private attorney charged with defending Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who told the Court that Idaho's ban combats forces that erode marriage like divorce and parental absenteeism, and helps Idaho children grow up in one-man, one-woman families—an ideal environment, he said, for children's "bonding right." Allowing same-sex marriage, he said, harms Idaho's interest in preserving Idaho families.

Speaking for the plaintiffs—four same-sex couples including Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers, Lori and Sharene Watsen, Sheila Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson—was Boise attorney Deborah Ferguson, who argued that Idaho's ban denies same-sex couples their Fourth Amendment rights, that Idaho's ban is "the most draconian" in the 9th Circuit, and that the argument that the ban reflects Idaho's cultural values is arbitrary.

"It nullifies all same-sex marriages made in other states at its borders and bars the possibility of recognition of any form to same-sex couples," Ferguson argued before the 9th Circuit. "The state’s justifications for banning same-sex marriage, the harms are so egregious, and there is no rational logical conclusion if the state wants to encourage man-woman marriage, that sounds just like gender stereotypes."

And Tuesday afternoon, the 9th Circuit, ruling on Idaho and Nevada's same-sex marriage laws told attorneys for both states that they had "failed to demonstrate that these laws further any legitimate purpose, they unjustifiably discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and are in violation of the Equal Protection Clause."

Tuesday's 9th Circuit decision upholds the May 13 ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Candy Dale who struck down Idaho's ban as unconstitutional because it relegates select Idaho citizens to a "stigmatized, second-class status."