Idaho, case: Latta et al. v. Otter et al.
Summary as of 2014-OCT
The tenth anniversary of the first legal same-sex marriages (SSMs) in the United States occured on 2014-MAY-17. It is celebrated by some and is a source of great discomfort and sadness for others. The first legal SSMs in the U.S. occurred in Massachusetts. By coincidence, that day was also the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 that started the end of segregated education in the U.S. -- a process that remains incomplete.
On MAY-13, a District Court judge in one more state -- Idaho -- added their decision on SSM to a long string of rulings made by various U.S. District Courts around the U.S. since 2013-JUN-26. On the latter date, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Windsor v. United States that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and void. That decision made it possible for some legally married same-sex couples to access the 1,138 federal government programs, benefits, protections, etc for themselves and their children -- on an equal basis with legally married opposite-sex couples.
Between mid-2013 and 2014-MAY, ten court decisions on SSM -- one in an Arkansas county court and the rest in federal District Courts -- have all ruled in favor marriage equality! Like the Supreme Court decision in Windsor, they have based their rulings mainly on the due process and/or the equal protection clauses in the 14th Amenment of the U.S. Constitution. These clauses require state and federal governments to treat people -- and thus couples -- equally.
Following this pattern, on MAY-13, Judge Candy Dale of a District Court in Idaho ruled that same-sex couples could apply for marriage licenses and marry, starting on Friday morning, 2014-MAY-16.
However, on the afternoon of MAY-15, as hundreds of happy, loving, committed same-sex couples were preparing to descend on their county clerks' offices the next day to obtain their licenses and marry, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit of Court of Appeals temporarily stayed the District Court ruling.
By 2014-OCT, four lawsuits in three other Circuit Courts had been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On OCT-06, the high court refused to grant certiorari to any of the four lawsuits involved. This means that the high court refused to review the three Circuit Courts' decisions. The lower courts rulings then became final, and same-sex couples in five states were able to buy marriage licenses that day. Over time, same-sex couples in six additional states which fall under the jurisdiction of the one of the three Circuit Courts should be able to marry as well
One day later, on OCT-07, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in Latta v. Otter. As expected, it legalzed same-sex marriage in Idaho, matching decisions by all but one of about three dozen state and federal courts since mid 2013. They did not issue a stay of their ruling. However, in response to a request by the State of Idaho, the U.S. Supreme Court did issue a stay.
If the Supreme Court refuses certiorari for this case in the future, then same-sex marriages would be almost instantly available in Idaho. Shortly thereafter, SSM would probably be available in all of the states within the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Marriage equality might then be available throughout 35 U.S. States and the District of Columbia.
There was an ancient Chinese curse that comes to mind: "May you live in interesting times."
Initial posting: 2014-MAY-15
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