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Law & Justice
Amber and Rachael filed their lawsuit against Idaho in Nov. 2013. They were married Oct. 15, 2014.In November 2013, eight women -- four couples -- sued the state of Idaho over its 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.The plaintiffs, Susan Latta and Traci Ehlers, Lori Watsen and Sharene Watsen, Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson, say Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage violates equal protection and due process guarantees.Two of the couples have been legally married in other states and two have tried to get Idaho marriage licenses and been denied.Their case went to U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale in May 2014. On May 13, eight days after Dale heard the case, she struck down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban.Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden appealed that ruling in an effort to uphold Idaho's Constitution as approved by voters in 2006.On Oct. 7, 2014, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Dale's ruling, striking down Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage. After more than a week of legal challenges, same-sex marriages began Oct. 15, 2014 in Idaho.

What The Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Case Means For Idaho

Frankie Barnhill
Boise State Public Radio
Amber and Rachael Beierle were among the Idaho couples who wed Oct. 15, 2014, the day gay marriage was legalized in Idaho. The Beierle's were among the plaintiffs who sued Idaho over its ban.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday about whether states should be allowed to ban same-sex marriage. While Idaho is not directly involved in this case, whatever the court decides will impact the law here.

University of Idaho College of Law associate professor Shaakirrah Sanders expects the court to rule that it’s unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriage. If that happens, then the status quo set in place last fall when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban, will continue. Gay people will still be able to get married in Idaho.

But Sanders says the court is actually being asked to consider two things. There's the issue of whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry or if states can ban gay marriage. Then there's the issue of whether states with bans have to recognize same-sex marriages done legally in other states.

“The court could say yes on the marriage issue,” Sanders says. “The court could say no on both the marriage and the recognition issue. Or, the trickier situation, the court could say no on the marriage issue but yes on recognition.”

There’s precedent for that third possibility, Sanders says. States have varying age requirements for marriage, but have to recognize marriages from states with different age rules.

"An Idaho couple could essentially go across the border to Washington, get married, come back and ask Idaho to recognize that marriage,” Sanders says.

If the Supreme Court says states can ban gay marriage and don’t have to recognize them, Sanders says the court would probably say that couples married after state bans were struck down are still legally married. So even if Idaho’s ban were restored, the state would likely have some legally married same-sex couples.

Sanders says the Supreme Court will issue its ruling on gay marriage this summer, likely in June.

Tuesday at 4:00 p.m., Sanders and another U of I law professor will host a public discussion about the arguments presented to the Supreme Court. That’s at the U of I building on Broadway and Myrtle in Boise.

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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