Idaho Governor Takes Fight to Defend State Marriage Amendment to U.S. Supreme Court

OtterBOISE, Idaho — The governor of Idaho has take the fight to defend his state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as being solely between a man and a woman to the U.S. Supreme Court.

As previously reported, last May, U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale asserted that the amendment, which was passed in 2006 with 63 percent approval from voters, violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

“This case asks a basic and enduring question about the essence of American government: Whether the will of the majority, based as it often is on sincere beliefs and democratic consensus, may trump the rights of a minority,” Dale wrote. “If every individual enjoys a constitutional right to marry, what is the substance of that right for gay or lesbian individuals who cannot marry their partners of choice?”

She also contended that the religious reasons cited by the state were not sufficient to save the amendment.

“No doubt many faiths around the world and in Idaho have longstanding traditions of man-woman marriage rooted in scripture,” she stated. “But not all religions share the view that opposite-sex marriage is a theological imperative.”

Idaho Governor C.L. Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden then appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but the court upheld Dale’s ruling and another ruling out of Nevada this past October.

Therefore, Otter and Wasden have decided to appeal the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, with the assistance of Washington attorney Gene Schaerr.

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“The time has come for this court to resolve a question of critical importance to the states, their citizens and especially their children: Whether the federal Constitution prohibits a state from maintaining the traditional understanding and definition of marriage as between a man and a woman,” the petition submitted to the court states.

“It is important that at least one of the cases this court considers on the merits be a case in which the traditional definition of marriage has been defended with the most robust defense available,” it continued. “This is that case.”

Wasden also filed a separate petition, noting that the federal courts are now divided on the matter since the 6th Circuit upheld marriage amendments in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee last year.

“The lower federal courts have rendered conflicting decisions whether the Constitution requires states to sanction same-sex marriage,” he wrote. “This conflict has resulted in a Constitution that treats states unequally: It permits some to exercise the power they have always had to define civil marriage, but denies other states that same right.”

As previously reported, officials in Utah, Virginia and Oklahoma submitted appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court last year in an effort to overturn rulings that forced them to either recognize or legalize same-sex “marriages” in their state, but in October, the court announced that it declined to hear the cases. However, it did not rule out agreeing to hear other cases at another time.

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