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

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Along with the 9th Circuit, three other appeals courts have ruled in favor of gay marriage. Only the 6th Circuit has sided with states seeking to preserve same-sex marriage bans. Because of the split decisions among the appellate courts, it is very likely the Supreme Court will intervene.

The high court justices could decide as early as Jan. 9 to add same-sex marriage to their list of issues to be decided by summer.

Gay marriage is legal in at least 35 states, with Florida expected to be the latest to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses Jan. 6.

The 9th Circuit ruling that legalized gay marriage in Idaho on Oct. 15 declared that Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage violated equal protection and due process rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It overturned a constitutional amendment Idaho voters passed in 2006. The amendment, considered one of the strictest in the nation, prohibited gay marriage, civil union and any other form of state recognition of relationships that was not between a man and a woman.

Deborah Ferguson, the lead attorney who represented the four couples who successfully Idaho’s gay marriage ban, said she is willing to continue to defending the 9th Circuit’s decision.

“The 9th Circuit decided correctly,” she said. “We’ll now have to wait and see what happens next.”

Idaho’s gay marriage fight has cost taxpayers more than $400,000 so far. In December, a federal court ruled that the state must pay the attorney fees to the team of lawyers who defended the four lesbian couples fighting the ban on gay marriage. The state has also spent more than $80,000 on private attorneys.

Otter’s petition is here. The attorney general’s petition is here.

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