A judge ruled that Idaho must recognize same-sex marriage.
According to a news release issued Tuesday, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Idaho Candy W. Dale ruled in favor of four same-sex couples who were challenging Idaho's marriage laws.
Dale ruled the laws in question violated the rights of gays and lesbians under the 14th Amendment.
"If every individual enjoys a constitutional right to marry, what is the substance of that right for gay or lesbian individuals who cannot marry their partners of choice?" Dale asked in the memorandum decision and order. "Traditional man-woman marriage is no answer, as this would suggest that gays and lesbians can switch off their sexual orientation and choose to be content with the universe of opposite-sex partners approved by the state."
Unless an appeal is filed in a higher court and that court issues a stay, Idaho must recognize the marriages starting Friday at 9 a.m.
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter released the following statement:
"In 2006, the people of Idaho exercised their fundamental right, reaffirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. 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."
The attorney for the couples who filed the lawsuit said the ruling recognized that the families are part of Idaho's community and that they deserved the same protections and respect as other Idaho families.
One Pocatello couple who has been together for four years said this ruling won't really affect their decision to get married because they don't take it lightly.
"The point behind a marriage is a lifetime commitment to each other," said Aaron Rold while signing for boyfriend Justin Kauffman. "We've talked a little bit about getting married, but it's not something we're really completely focused on right now."
One Pocatello woman strongly disagrees with gay and lesbian people on many issues, including the issue of marriage. She said marriage is a commandment from God.
"Things like sexual perversity have been literally the last straw before Heavenly Father destroys nations," said Niki Taysom. "This will be dangerous for America if things like this continue."
So what does this mean from the legal standpoint? Tuesday evening, two local family practice attorneys spoke about the lawsuits in Boise filed by the four lesbian couples.
Attorneys Shan Perry and Laurie Gaffney, from law firms in Idaho Falls, explained what the ruling means when it refers to violation of rights under the 14th Amendment.
"The court said in this decision that when it comes to due process and equal protection that same-sex couples were not treated equally in Idaho," said Perry.
"I think one way to look at this is to say, that if we legalize gay marriage, we have a lot of children out there who are going to enjoy what the law provides children who belong in heterosexual marriages," Gaffney said, "which is they are entitled to the support of both of their parents financially when their parents split up."
However, even before a decision was reached, Gov. Otter filed an appeal in case the law was overturned. That appeal is pending, and this ruling means Idaho also has to recognize same-sex marriages from other states too.
Idaho will be the 18th state to recognize same-sex marriage if the judge's decision is upheld.