A federal judge in Idaho struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban late Tuesday, ordering county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples by 9 a.m. Friday.
Following the lead of lower court judges in other states, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled marriage is a fundamental right. Idaho’s ban, adopted by voters in 2006, violates the constitutional rights of the four couples who sued, Dale’s ruling said.
“Idaho’s Marriage Laws withhold from them a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted,” Dale wrote. “By doing so, Idaho’s Marriage laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love.”
Although other judges have stayed their rulings following a U.S. Supreme Court order in Utah’s same-sex marriage case earlier this year, Dale ruled the state must stop discriminating against same-sex couples immediately.
But Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter plans to appeal and has said he might go straight to the Supreme Court, bypassing the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“In 2006, the people of Idaho exercised their fundamental right, reaffirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” Otter said in a statement Tuesday. “Today’s decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court. I am firmly committed to upholding the will of the people and defending our constitution.”