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Conservative group: Feds can’t force Idaho to recognize same-sex marriage

Monday, March 3, 2014
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BOISE, Idaho — The federal government cannot force Idaho to change its definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the conservative Cornerstone Family Council of Idaho contends in a recent court filing.

The council rejected the idea that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act required Idaho to permit same-sex marriage or recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Idaho“Nothing could be further from the truth,” the council wrote in a brief in a case in which four couples are suing the state over Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriages.

The Supreme Court case narrowly involved the issuance of federal benefits to same-sex couples, the council contended in its amicus brief filed last week.

It “does not forbid a state like Idaho from preserving marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

“To the contrary, the court’s repeated references to our federalist struct ure … only serve to bolster the defense of Idaho’s Marriage Laws,” the council contended.

The power to define marriage and domestic relationships historically resides with individual states, the council said. Requiring Idaho to redefine marriage would “trample this traditional state power and contravene compelling interests in federalism, state self-determination and pluralism.”

Cornerstone requested that the court grant Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s motion for an immediate ruling in the case, while rejecting the plaintiff’s motion.

Four couples who are suing the state in federal court over Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage are asking a federal judge to rule in their favor without a trial, contending the facts of the case and recent federal court rulings elsewhere make it clear that Idaho’s marriage laws violate the Constitution.

Otter, a defendant in the case, also is seeking an immediate ruling, contending that states and not the federal government hav e the right to define marriage and that same-sex marriages would harm Idaho’s children.

Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.

The Idaho couples filed their lawsuit in November against the governor and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. The couples are Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers, Lori and Sharene Watsen, Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson.

Latta and Ehlers married in 2008 in California, and the Watsens married in 2011 in New York. The other two couples have been denied marriage licenses in Idaho, though Beierle and Rachael Robertson own a house together and Altmayer and Shelia Robertson are raising their son together.

Otter contends that Idaho’s laws banning same-sex marriage are vital to the state’s goal of creating “stable, husband-wife unions for the benefit of their children.”

The women contend Otter’s stance has no basis in reality and say the state’s ban on gay marriage is nothing more than discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. Banning same-sex marriage does nothing to encourage heterosexual couples to procreate or become better parents, they say.

Follow this case: Latta v. Otter.

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