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Idaho Governor Continues to Fight Marriage Equality

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Idaho Governor Butch OtterAfter having said he would not appeal the recent marriage equality decision, Idaho’s Governor Butch Otter has apparently had a change of heart.

SDGLN reports:

Idaho failed to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay that would have halted gay marriages in that state, so the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dissolved its temporary stay and allowed gay weddings to resume a week ago. But instead of following the law, Gov. Otter is determined to try and try again. For a second time, he will file a petition with the Ninth Circuit seeking an en banc review of its ruling that went 3-0 in favor of marriage equality. En banc means that a larger panel of 11 judges would re-hear Idaho’s case. Legal observers said Idaho’s defense of the ban on gay marriage was lame at best. As of 4 pm PDT on Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit website makes no mention of Otter’s request.

Know the phrase “a snowball’s chance in hell”?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Idaho.

Arizona AG Concedes That 9th Circuit Ruling Applies, Awaits Mandate

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Arizona Attorney General Tom HorneThings are moving along for marriage equality in Arizona. Republican Atty. Gen. Tom Horne just conceded that the recent Ninth Circuit rulings in Nevada and Idaho apply to Arizona.

AZ Central reports:

In legal documents filed Thursday, Republican Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne wrote that he believes a recent appeals-court ruling striking down similar marriage bans in other states applies to Arizona. But he asked U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick to wait to overturn the law until the appeals court issues its legal mandate. A mandate instructs courts to go forward with the opinion. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a mandate last week within hours of ruling that marriage laws in Idaho and Nevada violated couples’ rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. But the court withdrew its mandate so Idaho could appeal.

Nevertheless, the ruling is expected shortly:

Sedwick could issue a ruling at any time. If he deems the law unconstitutional, Horne could then either concede and instruct county clerks to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples or appeal to the 9th Circuit.

It’s quite possible that Arizona will have marriage equality by next week, unless of course the Atty. Gen. decides to draw this whole thing out.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.

Alaska Marriage Equality Back on Hold

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Alaska MapThe Ninth Circuit has put weddings in Alaska on hold once again until Friday as the Governor tries a hail-mary pass to the US Supreme Court.

The Washington Blade reports:

As the initial same-sex marriages took place in Alaska days after a district court ruling against the state’s ban on gay nuptials, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay halting additional weddings for the time being. According to the two-page order, same-sex weddings are stayed until Friday at 12 pm Pacific Time (3 pm Eastern Time) to give state officials the opportunity to obtain an additional stay from the Supreme Court. But if the Supreme Court declines to halt the weddings, the Ninth Circuit stay will dissolve by that deadline…

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell and Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty sought an emergency stay on same-sex marriages after U.S. District Judge U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess, who’s struck the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, refused to grant a stay on his ruling. After that denial, state officials took up the matter with the Ninth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Alaska. It’s hard to see how state officials will succeed in obtaining a stay from the Supreme Court given justices’ refusal to extend a similar stay on a Ninth Circuit decision in favor of same-sex marriage in Idaho.

Most likely this is just a bump in the road and couples will be able to marry in Alaska again shortly.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alaska.

Marriage Equality: What’s Going On in Idaho and Nevada?

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

IdahoThings have gotten a bit messy in Idaho and Nevada since the Ninth Circuit overturned bans in both states on Tuesday. Here’s the run-down.

Nevada planned to drop its appeal of the case, meaning that the state would see same sex weddings begin almost immediately – by 2 PM yesterday. But Idaho officials had other plans for their own state. reports:

“Idaho’s Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Governor Butch Otter (pictured) have filed an emergency motion to recall a 9th Circuit mandate that would lift the state’s gay marriage ban. KTVB reports: Because of the mandate, same-sex couples in Idaho won’t have to wait for the standard 7-day time span for the ruling to take effect. The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure typically provide the seven-day waiting period to give the losing side a chance to appeal. But the state of Idaho filed an emergency motion to recall that mandate, the attorney general’s office confirmed Wednesday morning. It’s unclear whether same-sex marriages will be allowed to proceed Wednesday.”

So essentially, the Ninth Circuit ordered the state to start marrying gays and lesbians, and the state said “hold on a minute”. Then Justice Kennedy stepped in. Reuters reports:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy granted a request from Idaho officials on Wednesday and temporarily blocked the planned start of gay marriages in that state after a regional federal appeals court’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Nevada mapThis is where things start to get murky. The media mistakenly reported that the order would also block weddings in Nevada:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has issued a stay on same-sex marriages in Idaho and Nevada pending any further order by Justice Kennedy or the entire court. “Lawyers for same-sex couples were told to file a response by 5 p.m. Thursday to Idaho’s request,” according to SCOTUS blog. The full order can be found here. An AP report confirmed BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner’s earlier inquiry that the stay would affect same-sex marriages in Nevada, which were also impacted by the Ninth Circuit court’s decision.

So Kennedy clarified that his order only affected Idaho, not Nevada. LGBTQ Nation reports:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has allowed same-sex marriage to begin in Nevada, clarifying that an earlier order blocking gay unions applies only to Idaho. Kennedy said in a brief order issued Wednesday afternoon that he is temporarily putting on hold same-sex marriage in Idaho, where state officials have asked for the delay. Nevada officials did not make a similar request.

Kennedy has called for a response to the stay in Idaho by 5 PM today. One couple did marry in Idaho before the stay was put in place. reports:

According to The Idaho Statesman, one gay couple was able to get married in Twin Falls, Idaho before Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy issued his stay of the 9th Circuit’s ruling striking down bans on same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada. Same-sex couples were supposed to be able to begin marrying immediately in both states following a mandate issued by the 9th Circuit.

Meanwhile, in Nevada, a group with no ties to the state (and likely no standing in the case) filed an emergency request to re-instate the stay there. reports:

A group fighting to keep Nevada’s state ban on same-sex marriage wants the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a short-lived ruling that blocked weddings from taking place.Coalition for the Protection of Marriage attorney Monte Neil Stewart says he filed a request for Justice Anthony Kennedy to reinstate a stay on Wednesday afternoon.

The Ninth Circuit is giving the group its day in court, essentially, agreeing to put things on hold in Nevada until at least 5 PM today. reports:

…the 9th Circuit is also considering whether to recall its mandate issued yesterday that same-sex marriages must begin in Nevada immediately following its ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The court has, however, already rescinded its mandate as it applies to Idaho. BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner reports: Subsequent to the second order from Justice Anthony Kennedy, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recalled the mandate in the Idaho marriage case, per an order it filed Wednesday afternoon. Additionally, regarding the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage’s request before the 9th Circuit asking it to recall its mandate in the Nevada marriage case, the court called for responses to that request by 5 p.m. PT Thursday.

So now we wait for 5 PM.

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The Best Quote from Today’s Ninth Circuit Marriage Equality Decision

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Idaho Governor Butch OtterThe Circuit Court took down Idaho Governor Butch Otter:

He also states, in conclusory fashion, that allowing same-sex marriage will lead opposite-sex couples to abuse alcohol and drugs, engage in extramarital affairs, take on demanding work schedules, and participate in time-consuming hobbies. We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll.

Just awesome.

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Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Marriage Equality Bans in Nevada, Idaho

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Ninth Circuit, San Francisco - Apple MaosThe hits just keep on coming – what a crazy and wonderful week this is turning out to be. The Ninth Circuit just struck down bans in Nevada and Idaho.

The Washington Blade reports:

Just one day after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up petitions seeking to overturn rulings in favor of marriage equality, a federal appeals court struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada. In a 40-page decision on Tuesday, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled against the bans on same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada. Writing for the court, U.S. Circuit Judge Reinhardt says judges found the law were unconstitutional by subjecting them to heightened scrutiny. “We hold that the Idaho and Nevada laws at issue violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny lesbians and gays who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex, and do not satisfy the heightened scrutiny standard we adopted in SmithKline,” Reinhardt writes. The ruling also means bans on same-sex marriage in Alaska, Arizona and Montana are expected to fall soon because those states are also in the Ninth Circuit.

Idaho may still appeal:

Now that the decision has been handed down, parties in the lawsuit that were defending the laws can let the decision stand, seek review before the full Ninth Circuit, or petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the cases. It seems unlikely the Supreme Court would want to consider the case given its denial of certiorari petitions for the circuit court decision finding a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. If an appeal is filed, it will come from attorney Monte Stewart, who was defending the Idaho marriage ban in court on behalf of Gov. Butch Otter (R) in addition to the ban in Nevada, where he participated in the case as an intervenor after Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) discontinued their defense of the law.

The Court sent the Nevada case back to the district court:

Joe.My.God reports:

The court remanded Lambda Legal’s Nevada marriage equality case to the district court for the prompt issuance of an injunction permanently enjoining the state, its political subdivisions, and its officers, employees and agents, from preventing same-sex couples from marrying or denying recognition to marriages entered outside of the state. Same-sex couples will not be able to enforce their right to marry until that happens, but government officials in Nevada may allow same-sex couples to marry before then.

But Nevada is unlikely to appeal. From the Dallas Voice:

Fearing a tourism boycott from the LGBT community, officials in Nevada previously said they will not appeal a ruling on their marriage law. The state already had domestic partnerships.

So we’ll likely see couples marrying in Las Vegas within a few days or a week.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Idaho.

Analysis of the Ninth Circuit Hearing for Idaho, Nevada and Hawaii

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Ninth Circuit, San Francisco - Apple MaosA soft-spoken attorney representing Idaho started his state’s anti-marriage equality argument by suggesting that allowing gays to marry violates the “bonding right” of children that they will be raised by their biological mothers and fathers. It took Judge Marsha Berzon just 15 seconds to ask her first question: “What is that word you’re using before ‘right'”? Judge Berzon can hear just fine; it’s just that she had never heard anyone make such a ridiculous claim before today. The rest of the hearing followed similarly.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a Carter-appointee and liberal leader of the appellate courts, was joined by Judge Berzon, a sharp-minded progressive appointed by President Clinton, and Judge Robert Gould, another Clinton appointee, in a nearly two-hour long interrogation of attorneys from Idaho and Nevada that may not have been as bombastic as Judge Posner’s treatment of attorneys from Wisconsin and Indiana in the Seventh Circuit, a hearing which resulted in a marvelous unanimous victory (“Go figure!”), but was every bit as damaging to the forces opposed to marriage equality.

It also brought marriage equality full circle. Judge Reinhardt was the judge that wrote the first decision from a federal appellate court on marriage equality, affirming District Judge Vaughn Walker’s pioneering rejection of California’s Prop 8. We all know how that case turned out.

Authored By Ari Ezra Waldman – See the Full Story at

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Ninth Circuit Panel Hears Marriage Equality Cases from Idaho, Hawaii, and Nevada

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Ninth Circuit, San Francisco - Apple MaosYesterday, a three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit heard marriage equality cases from Idaho, Hawaii, Nevada.

Equality on Trial reports:

Much discussion was made of the proper level of constitutional scrutiny which should be applied to the laws. Judge Berzon suggested that marriage equality proponents would be in trouble if the court resorted to traditional rational basis scrutiny, but all three judges entertained arguments that the Ninth Circuit’s earlier decision in SmithKline—which ruled that sexual orientation discrimination merits heightened scrutiny—requires a similar holding in these cases. Judge Berzon also expressed an interest in a possible ruling on sex discrimination grounds, which most other courts have been hesitant to do.

In short, it seems quite likely that the judges were unimpressed by [Attorney Monte] Stewart’s arguments and will invalidate the state marriage bans on heightened scrutiny. The real question at this point is whether the case will hinge only on sexual orientation discrimination claims or will instead include sex discrimination claims. Another question is whether the judges’ opinion will invalidate the laws as impermissible restrictions on same-sex couples’ fundamental right to marry, or if they will simply rely on equal protection to make their decision.

The Washington Blade points out that this case is unique, in that the Ninth Circuit has already held that laws dealing with gays and lesbians should be subject to heightened scrutiny in an earlier case:

The Ninth Circuit is uniques among other circuit that have heard marriage cases following the DOMA decision because the jurisdiction — along with the First Circuit — has precedent for subjecting laws related to sexual orientation to heightened scrutiny, or a greater assumption they’re unconstitutional. The precedent came about in June as a result of the decision in SmithKline v. Abbott, a case involving a gay juror who was excluded from deciding a case because of his sexual orientation. [Judge] Reinhardt — who also wrote the Ninth Circuit decision against California’s Proposition 8 — wrote the SmithKline decisio and was joined by Berzon. Meanwhile, Gould delivered a favorable ruling for gay people in the Ninth Circuit decision of Witt v. Air Force, which challenged “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

SDGLN says the defense used the same tired old arguments:

It was clear that Stewart had no real evidence to show the harm that is caused by gay marriage. All he could do is predict horrible things will happen if Idaho has gay marriage, such as the state will see a rise in “dad-less” or “mom-less” families. When Judge Berzon challenged him to cite evidence, Stewart fumbled through that question, citing numbers that showed that only about 58% of the state’s children came from a mom-dad family unit. Judge Gould grew weary of the “child’s bonding right” argument, and asked Stewart where that “bonding right” came from since it was not in the Bill of Rights. Stewart then admitted that he made up the phrase to collectively describe his argument that a child does best when it has a mother and a father who are married. Judge Reinholdt said if the state was so worried about marriage, shouldn’t it ban divorce? Stewart then launched into a diatribe against no-fault divorce, again veering far off the issue at hand. Judge Berzon summed it up best when she told Stewart that the “train has already left the station” on marriage being redefined, using historical milestones to rebut his argument.

If you want to watch for yourself, here’s the video stream from the court:

It’s about 2 hours and 33 minutes long.

These decisions seem to becoming faster and faster these days – hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for the results of this one.

Authored By – See the Full Story at

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Ninth Circuit to Hear Marriage Equality Cases from Hawaii, Idaho, and Nevada Today

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Ninth Circuit, San Francisco - Apple MaosToday is the day for the next big marriage equality hearing at Circuit Court level – cases from Hawaii, Idaho, and Nevada.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

A federal appeals court on Monday is set to consider same-sex marriage bans in Idaho, Nevada and Hawaii. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled two hours of arguments Monday on whether such bans should be struck down in Idaho and Nevada. Hawaii legalized same-sex marriage in December so that appeal may be dismissed. The appeals court has previously ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in the California challenge to Proposition 8, a 2008 voter approved same-sex marriage ban.

The Huffington Post has more details:

The 9th Circuit panel has allotted a combined two hours for three sets of arguments Monday. The court is expecting a big turnout and is limiting public seating in the courtroom through a lottery. The court will also stream the two hours of arguments live online. The case for gay marriage was bolstered when the court earlier this week unveiled the names of the three judges assigned to decide the issue in those three states. Judges Marsha Berzon and Ronald Gould were appointed by President Bill Clinton. And Judge Stephen Reinhardt, appointed by President Jimmy Carter, is considered one of the most politically liberal jurists on the 29-judge court. Reinhardt wrote the 2012 opinion striking down California’s gay marriage ban. He also wrote an opinion in January that declared gays and lesbians a “protected class” and extended to them the same civil right protections against discrimination that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously promised only women and racial minorities.

The live streaming link is here – the arguments start at 1 PM Pacific.

Every now and then you just have to stop for a minute, breathe, and realize what an amazing moment of time this is for LGBT rights.

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Marriage Equality USA will have a Community Call tonight after the hearing, at 6 PM Pacific – sign up here.

Image via Apple Maps

Marriage Equality USA Community Call Tonight After Ninth District Hearing

Monday, September 8th, 2014

MEUSA Conference CallJoin Marriage Equality USA and partners for a national COMMUNITY CALL to be held tonight to discuss the day’s events surrounding the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals marriage equality cases.

7pm MT / 8pm CT / 9pm ET

Sign up for the call now!

On 8 September 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will hear oral arguments in marriage equality cases Natasha Jackson v. Neil Abercrombie from Hawai’i, Beverly Sevcik v. Brian Sandoval from Nevada, and Susan Latta v. C. Otter from Idaho. The hearing will begin at 1:00pm PDT.

You are invited to our Community Call to discuss what happened in the courtroom, to hear community reaction, and to ask questions about where we go from here. This call is open to all supporters of marriage equality and allies — feel free to share this info! Media are welcome to attend, however, the call is off-the-record.

Participants on the call will include: host John Lewis, Marriage Equality USA’s Legal and Public Policy Director: panelist Kathleen Perrin, nationally recognized legal expert, EQCF; and moderator Thom Watson, MEUSA’s Social Media Manager and Court Watcher.

To receive the call in information, sign up at