Federal judge overturns Alaska same-sex marriage ban News
Federal judge overturns Alaska same-sex marriage ban

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Alaska [official website] on Sunday overturned [order, PDF] Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban. Five same-sex couples living in Alaska brought the action pursuant to 42 USC § 1983 and filed a motion for summary judgement. Judge Timothy Burgess found that Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same-sex marriages lawfully performed in other states is unconstitutional “as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.” The judge concluded:

In sum, any relationship between Alaska’s same-sex marriage laws and the government interests asserted by Defendants is either nonexistent or purely speculative. Alaska’s same-sex marriage laws are a prime example of how “the varying treatment of different groups or persons is so unrelated to the achievement of any combination of legitimate purposes that we can only conclude that the legislature’s actions were irrational.” Refusing the rights and responsibilities afforded by legal marriage sends the public a government-sponsored message that same-sex couples and their familial relationships do not warrant the status, benefits, and dignity given to couples of the opposite sex. This Court finds that Alaska’s same-sex marriage laws violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because no state interest provides “exceedingly persuasive justification” for the significant infringement of rights that they inflict upon homosexual individuals.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell [official website] announced plans to appeal [press release].

Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] continues to be one of the most controversial legal issues in the US today, with numerous courts weighing in, particularly in the past week. Last Tuesday the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which includes Alaska, struck down same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada [JURIST report]. That ruling followed the US Supreme Court’s Monday announcement that it had denied seven pending appeals [JURIST report], effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana. Also last week the Kansas Supreme Court temporarily halted [JURIST report] the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses until it hears oral arguments on the issue next month.