While I was away for the long weekend, several key victories occurred for marriage equality. In case you missed them as well – a quick little wrap up for you.
North Carolina – On Friday, October 10, a federal judge in North Carolina agreed that the ruling in favor of the freedom to marry in the 4th Circuit also applies to North Carolina’s state constitutional Amendment 1, which bans same-sex couples from marrying. In the ruling, Judge Cogburn wrote:
The issue before this court is neither a political issue nor a moral issue. It is a legal issue and it is clear as a matter of what is now settled law in the Fourth Circuit that North Carolina laws prohibiting same sex marriage, refusing to recognize same sex marriages originating elsewhere, and/or threating to penalize those who would solemnize such marriages, are unconstitutional.
Same-sex couples were immediately issued marriage licenses on Friday.
Alaska – On Sunday evening, a federal judge struck down Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska ruled that the state’s ban was unconstitutional under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess wrote that any relationship between the ban and government interests was “either nonexistent or purely speculative.” In the ruling, he states,
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.
Alaska’s governor has already announced plans to appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, although that court ruled against similar bans in Nevada and Idaho. You can already hear Sarah Palin having a coronary.
Idaho – The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has dissolved the stay blocking same-sex marriage in Idaho, announcing that couples may begin marrying on Wednesday morning.
On Oct. 7, the 9th Circuit Court struck down both Idaho and Nevada’s gay marriage bans. Marriages were allowed to begin immediately in Nevada, but the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay after a last-minute appeal by Idaho officials, temporarily putting same-sex marriages on hold in the state. On Oct. 10, the nation’s highest court said Idaho could proceed with same-sex marriages.