Idaho's Gay Marriage Ban Has Been Struck Down By A Federal Judge

Another one bit the dust on Tuesday as a federal judge struck down Idaho’s gay marriage ban. Judge Candy Dale found that the ban, which voters added to the state constitution via referendum in 2006, violated LGBT Idahoans’ constitutional rights, and that the state, in its defense of the ban, had failed to show that same-sex marriage inflicts any harm upon opposite-sex married couples. This is the second such ruling in less than a week after a judge struck down Arkansas’s gay marriage ban on Friday.

“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,” Dale wrote. “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."

Intriguingly, Dale also ruled argued against the ban on "religious liberties" grounds, arguing that it violates the religious freedom of congregations that do wish to perform same-sex marriages.

In addition to the ruling on the marriage ban itself, Dale also found that any state laws that refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states are, as of Friday, no longer enforceable. That determination — and the entirety of Dale's ruling — could be reversed if a higher court intervenes before then, however.

“Slow as the march toward equality may seem, it is never in vain,” Dale concluded at the end of her ruling.

Republican Governor Butch Otter, who supports the law, hasn’t directly confirmed that he’ll appeal to the Supreme Court, but he did imply as much in a statement released shortly after the ruling.

“Today’s decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Otter said. “I am firmly committed to upholding the will of the people and defending our Constitution.”