Federal judge strikes down same-sex marriage ban in Idaho

Today, a federal district court in Boise issued a decision striking down Idaho’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples and ordering the state to allow same-sex couples to marry in Idaho and to recognize the marriages of couples who married in other states. The court’s order takes effect at 9:00 a.m. Mountain time on May 16. The case was brought by four same-sex couples represented by Boise attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

The couples argued that Idaho’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples cannot stand in light of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling last June that the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” violates the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process. The decision marks the eleventh federal court since last summer’s Supreme Court decision to rule in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, including federal courts in Utah, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

The couples are Susan Latta and Traci Ehlers, and Lori and Sharene Watsen, who are legally married and asked Idaho to recognize their marriages, and Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson, who seek to marry.

Said Ferguson: “Today’s decision affirms the fundamental principles of equality and fairness and the common humanity of gay and lesbian people. As the Court recognized, these families are part of Idaho’s community, and equal protection requires that they be given the same legal protections and respect as other families in this state. The Court’s ruling is a victory not only for the courageous couples who brought this case, but for everyone who cares about freedom and fairness.”

Added Latta: “After living in Idaho for more than two decades, it means so much for a court to recognize our family and say that we must be treated equally. We love this state and want nothing more than to be treated as equal citizens who contribute to the community and help make Idaho an even better place for everyone who lives here. Today’s ruling means that we can finally have the same legal protections as other married couples and the security of knowing that our family is legally secure.”

More About the Plaintiffs

Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers

Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers, of Boise, have been together for 10 years and were married in California in 2008. Sue is an accomplished professional artist and adjunct professor at Boise State University. She has been deeply involved in the arts community in Boise, including serving as a member of the Mayor’s Task Force to revitalize the Boise Visual Chronicle and on Boise State University’s Art Advisory Board. Traci is a co-owner of a longstanding local small business. Sue has adult children that Traci has co-parented, and two grandchildren.

Lori and Sharene Watsen

Lori and Sharene Watsen, of Boise, have been together for four years and were married in New York in 2011. Lori is a licensed clinical social worker and associate field director for Boise State University’s School of Social Work. Sharene is a physician assistant with a local medical specialty group. Both Sharene and Lori have completed their master’s degrees. They have an infant, and they are seeking the freedom to marry to ensure that they both can be recognized as spouses and legal parents and provide their child with as much legal security and protection as possible.

Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer

Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer have been together for 16 years and reside in Boise. Shelia is a teacher of deaf children and a nationally certified sign language interpreter. Andrea is a certified massage therapist with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences. They have one child, a 4-year-old son. On November 6, 2013, they applied for a marriage license at the Ada County Recorder’s Office in Boise and were rejected because they are a same-sex couple.

Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson

Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson have been together for three years and reside in Boise. Amber is an education specialist with her master’s degree and manager of a state historic site. Rachael manages a commercial supply warehouse and is a veteran of the Idaho Army National Guard, with five years of service. Rachael served a tour of duty in Iraq and was awarded a combat medal, as well as a soldier good conduct medal. On November 6, 2013, the couple applied for a marriage license at the Ada County Recorder’s Office in Boise and were rejected because they are a same-sex couple.

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