Idaho officials appeal same-sex marriage case to U.S. Supreme Court

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R-Idaho) KIMBERLEE KRUESI [ap]

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho’s governor and attorney general have filed separate petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court, fighting against same-sex marriage and arguing that the state’s case has national consequences.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R-Idaho)

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R-Idaho)

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Idaho since an October ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has struck down bans across the West.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s filing Friday states that the issue is a matter of a state’s right to define marriage without the federal government’s involvement.

“This case presents the Court with the opportunity to resolve a divisive split on a question of nationwide importance: Whether the United States Constitution now prohibits states from maintaining the traditional definition of civil marriage, i.e., between one man and one woman,” Wasden said in the petition.

Gov. Butch Otter’s petition, filed Tuesday, states that the high court should review Idaho’s case alone or in addition to a pending case involving the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the right of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee to decide whether to allow gay marriage.

Otter’s petition maintains that unlike in other states, Idaho’s public officials have not shied away from defending a broad definition of heterosexual marriage, specifically by arguing that children are better off when marriage is limited to opposite-sex couples.

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He added that Idaho’s case addresses not only the question of in-state marriages, but also out-of-state same-sex marriage. Two out of the four lesbian couples who challenged Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban more than a year ago had been legally married in other 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,” wrote Otter attorney Gene Schaerr. “This is that case.”

Gay marriage supporters have until the end of the month to file responses, and it’s unclear whether the Supreme Court will step in.

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