[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Idaho [official website] on Tuesday struck down [press release and opinion, PDF] Idaho’s laws banning same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. Four same-sex couples filed the lawsuit [JURIST report] in November, challenging Idaho’s prohibition on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state. Citing the US Supreme Court’s recent decision in US v. Windsor [JURIST report], Judge Candy Dale found that Idaho’s laws violate the Fourteenth Amendment [text] to the US Constitution:
After careful consideration, the Court finds Idaho’s Marriage Laws unconstitutional. This conclusion reaffirms a longstanding maxim underlying our system of government—a state’s broad authority to regulate matters of state concern does not include the power to violate an individual’s protected constitutional rights. … Idaho’s Marriage Laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental right to marry and relegate their families to a stigmatized, second-class status without sufficient reason for doing so. These laws do not withstand any applicable level of constitutional scrutiny.
Dale’s decision will take effect on Friday, May 16, unless blocked by a higher court. Idaho Governor CL “Butch” Otter [official website] has pledged to appeal [press release].
Same-sex marriage bans are being challenged in state and federal courts across the US. On Monday five same-sex couples filed a lawsuit challenging Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban [JURIST report]. Last week a judge in Arkansas struck down [JURIST report] that state’s same-sex marriage ban. Also last week Indiana was ordered to recognize [JURIST report] an out-of-state same-sex marriage pending an appeal. A challenge is expected to South Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban, leaving North Dakota and Montana as the only states [TIME report] whose same-sex marriage bans have not been challenged in court.