Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Decisions Won’t Affect Idaho Law

Jun 26, 2013

Credit US Supreme Court

Law experts in Idaho say today’s decisions from the Supreme Court that strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and allow gay marriage to resume in California will have no effect on Idaho law.

Gay couples do not have the right to marry in Idaho.  Idaho passed a constitutional amendment in 2006 that says the only marriage the state will recognize is between a man and woman. 

Concordia University law professor Chad DeVeaux says while significant in states where gay marriage is legal, today’s rulings don’t change things in Idaho. 

“I don’t think it has a big impact,” he says. “Idaho is still at this point free to make its own choices.  Nothing that came down today will change that.”

Idaho Statesman political reporter Dan Popkey details Idaho’s history with gay marriage law and the decisions’ lack of an impact in the Gem State.

University of Idaho law professor Richard Seamon said the court made it clear in the DOMA decision that it was not invalidating any state marriage bans, including Idaho’s. But in the long run, Seamon said, the DOMA case could become part of the framework for a future court to overturn such prohibitions.

“It’s another brick in the wall of the legal edifice building up against gay marriage bans”Seamon said. “A lot of the reasons could be used in future lawsuits challenging such bans.”

At Boise’s Concordia University, DeVeaux agrees.  He thinks the top court effectively put off a bigger decision while more and more states move towards recognizing gay marriage.  He says the Supreme Court made a similar move regarding desegregation before issuing its famous 1954 decision on Brown v. Board of Education.

“To me, the takeaway might be that the court will revisit this in a few years,” he says. “I think they might be reading the tea leaves on where the states might be going on this issue and they might feel more comfortable revisiting it in a few years.”

Meanwhile, Utah public radio station KUER has published reaction from the Mormon Church to today's rulings. The church says the rulings raise "troubling" questions about how the democratic and judicial systems operate.

Idaho's ACLU also issued a statement following the decisions.  The organization celebrated the court's DOMA ruling and says it will now work to figure out what it means for same-sex Idahoans who were legally married in other states. 

Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio