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Idaho same-sex marriage (SSM) lawsuit Latta v. Otter.

2014-OCT: Current status of SSM in
western states. Idaho continues
appeal process. Webmaster's note.

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This topic is continued from the previous page

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wedding rings2014-OCT-20: Current status of same-sex marriage in the 13 most westerly states of the United States:

status of same-sex marriage in western states

  • States in dark blue have attained marriage equality. Both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can marry there. This includes Idaho, even as the state prepared to make an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal to restore marriage inequality to the state.

  • Wyoming, shown in red, originally resisted the 9th Circuit Court's ruling on marriage equality. It was the only state under the jurisdiction of that court in which same-sex couples could not marry. On the next day, OCT-21, it became the 32nd state to allow same-sex couples to marry.

  • North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, partly shown in dark red, still ban same-sex marriage. However, at least one court case is active in each of those states to attain marriage equality.

  • Texas, shown in orange, still bans same-sex marriage but a federal court there has issued a ruling favoring marriage equality. That decision is stayed pending an appeal.

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2014-OCT-21: Idaho's Governor and Attorney General appeal case again to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:

Governor Otto's office issued a news release saying:

"The Governor said the three-judge panel made some critical errors in its decision, among them failing to apply the correct legal standard to Idaho’s marriage laws. The 'en banc' review by 11 judges from the 9th Circuit would enable the State of Idaho to make its case to a larger and more diverse group of jurists.

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." 1

The "Hitching Post Chapel" is a popular for-profit business that has solemnized marriages in the city of Coeur d'Alene, ID for many decades. The owners of the chapel had indicated in a TV interview during 2014-MAY that they would refuse to marry any same-sex couples who asked to purchase their marriage services. They might be challenged in the future under the city's human rights ordinance which requires such profit-making companies who serve the general public to not discriminate against customers on the basis of the latter's sexual orientation. However, as of NOV-17, in spite of extensive and inaccurate reports by many conservative news outlets, no complaints have been made against the chapel.

The chapel may have to reorganize in the future to become a non-profit religious organization and rely on donations for revenue. Alternately, they may decide to arrange with a liberal marriage officiant in the area to come to the chapel and solemnize marriages of same-sex couples whenever needed. Either change would probably give the chapel immunity from prosecution under the city's human rights legislation. More details.

Governor Otto's lawyers wrote:

"This issue is also exceptional because, as a practical matter, redefining marriage by judicial fiat will undermine these social norms and likely lead to significant long-term harms to Idaho and its citizens, especially the children of heterosexuals."

His lawyers wrote that the three-judge panel's earlier decision is a "bad law" that

"... appears to be judicial policymaking masquerading as law. ... [it conflicts with] numerous decisions of this Court, other circuits and the Supreme Court. ... [It] creat[es] enormous risks to Idaho’s present and future children -- including serious risks of increased fatherlessness, reduced parental financial and emotional support, increased crime, and greater psychological problems -- with their attendant costs to Idaho and its citizens." 2

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Webmaster's note: (bias alert):

Apparently Governor Otter had no concern over the significant harm that not allowing same-sex couples to marry will cause to their children. Such harm is direct, observable, and measurable.

His lawyers' arguments have been used before in federal courts. It appears to be based on the assumption that marriage equality in Idaho would cause large number of fathers who are currently married to women to leave their family, and hook up with or marry other men. That claim, which has been rejected as without validity by other courts, may be based on the belief that sexual orientation is a chosen sexual attraction. This belief is still held by some religious and social conservatives, but has been long rejected by religious and social liberals; therapists; professional associations of psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers; human sexuality researchers; etc.

My knowledge of U.S. federal court procedures could be neatly inscribed on the head of a pin. However, it seems to me that the best way for the Governor to hope for an positive response to his appeal by the 9th Circuit Court would not involve first insulting the integrity of that court.

The 9th Circuit Court is generally regarded as the most liberal circuit court in the country. The probability of the Circuit Court ruling in favor of a same-sex marriage ban is close to zero. We suspect that marriage equality is secure in Idaho.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Andy Towle, "Idaho governor says he'll file for full 9th Circuit to re-hear case challenging gay marriage ban," Towleroad, 2014-OCT-21, at: http://www.towleroad.com/
  2. Chris Geidner, "Idaho Governor Asks Appeals Court To Reconsider Same-Sex Marriage Ruling," BuzzFeed News, 2014-OCT-22, at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/

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Copyright © 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally written: 2014-OCT-09
Latest update: 2014-OCT-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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