News (USA)

Idaho AG files motion to dismiss same-sex marriage case

Idaho AG files motion to dismiss same-sex marriage case

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed a motion Thursday seeking to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges the state’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban.

Lawrence Wasden
Lawrence Wasden

Wasden filed the motion as a representative of Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. In November, four couples challenged Idaho’s gay marriage ban with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Rich, saying Idaho’s 2006 voter-backed law banning gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process guarantees.

In his dismissal motion, Wasden argues that courts haven’t ruled that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right and Idaho’s ban does not violate the couples’ rights.

Wasden also argues that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act allows for states to define marriage.

The Supreme Court decision on DOMA “also did not hold that all states are required constitutionally to permit or recogni ze same-sex marriage,” the motion says.

The Idaho case is developing as judges in New Mexico, Ohio and Utah recently ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

The eight Idaho women who sued are Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers, Lori and Sharene Watsen, Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson.

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The women’s lawyers have adopted a legal strategy that’s been effective in Ohio so far.

They contend Idaho has historically recognized marriages performed in other states that would have been considered illegal under Idaho law, such as marriages between first cousins and common-law marriages, but the state has unconstitutionally drawn the line at gay marriage.

Among other things, the women say they’re already facing potential discrimination as a result of Idaho’s ban: For instance, even though they’re allowed to file joint federal tax returns like other married couples, they’re prohibited from joint state tax filing status in Idaho, forcing them to do extra work and potentially subjecting them to financial penalties.

Wasden is attempting to intervene in the case as well, but the federal judge has not ruled on that motion.

Follow this case: Latta v. Otter.

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