BOISE, ID, May 14, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal judge has overturned Idaho’s constitutional ban on same-sex “marriage,” arguing it violates the U.S. constitution. The decision is just the latest in a string of a dozen similar rulings in the wake of 2012’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had federally defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Judge Candy Dale’s ruling, handed down late Tuesday, means that effective Friday, Idaho will become the 18th state to recognize “marriages” between homosexual couples.
Dale’s decision came just a few days after a county judge in Arkansas threw that state into confusion by ruling their same-sex “marriage” ban unconstitutional. However, it is unclear whether the Arkansas ruling will apply to the entire state, or just the counties named in the original lawsuit.
In a 57-page decision, Judge Dale insisted that Idaho’s amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman was little more than a mean-spirited attempt by voters to marginalize homosexual relationships.
“This case asks a basic and enduring question about the essence of American government: Whether the will of the majority, based as it often is on sincere beliefs and democratic consensus, may trump the rights of a minority,” Dale wrote. “Idaho's marriage laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love.”
“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,” she wrote. “These laws do not withstand any applicable level of constitutional scrutiny.”
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Bill Duncan, director of the Center for Family and Society at the Sutherland Institute in Utah – which is currently fighting its own battle to save its marriage laws – told FOX 13 he believes Judge Dale overstepped her bounds in issuing Tuesday’s ruling.
“It’s disappointing that the court would make a ruling that is so fundamentally at odds with our legal standards,” Duncan said. “It is very concerning because there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires the states to change their definition of marriage. So, for federal judges, even a dozen or so of them, to say that the Constitution actually does require that is really overreaching.”
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins issued a statement condemning the ruling, and warned that redefining marriage could have widespread unintended consequences.
“If the courts believe they are going to resolve this issue once and for all by forcing a redefinition of marriage on the American people, they are wrong,” Perkins said. “The far reaching decision in Roe v. Wade was intended to resolve the issue of abortion, which 41 years later we know conclusively it did not. The definition of marriage, like the sanctity of human life, is seen in the natural or moral law. The decisions of courts can ignore it, they can even attempt to suppress it, but they will never eradicate it.”
“If there is a fundamental right for anyone to 'marry', how will marriage be limited to two people?” Perkins asked. “Once you open the hood and start tinkering with the components of marriage, there are no limits to what the judicial mechanics will do and how much it will cost.”
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter asked Dale to issue a stay postponing enforcement of the ruling, since the state of Idaho plans to appeal it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He pointed out the difficulties that other states have faced as similar cases have moved through the appeals process, with judicial reversals making same-sex “marriage” legal one day, but not the next. Describing such a scenario as an “unmitigated disaster,” he urged Judge Dale to stay the ruling before she even handed it down.
But Dale refused, saying she believes it is unlikely Idaho will ever succeed in reinstating the law. Allowing Idaho to continue enforcing its laws against same-sex “marriage,” she said, would “irreparably harm” the lesbian plaintiffs in the case, along with other homosexual couples. She added that it was not in the public interest to protect “a status quo that deprives individuals of their constitutional rights.”
Otter said the state will appeal Dale’s ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and in the event they do not rule in Idaho’s favor, he vowed to take the case to the U.S Supreme Court.
“In 2006, the people of Idaho exercised their fundamental right, reaffirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” Otter said in a statement. “Today's decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court. I am firmly committed to upholding the will of the people and defending our Constitution.”