Your Guide To The Legal Battle Over Same Sex Marriage In Idaho

Amber and Rachael filed their lawsuit against Idaho in Nov. 2013. They were married Oct. 15, 2014.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

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.

Response To SCOTUS Ruling On Colorado Baker Case

Jun 5, 2018
CREDIT TOM MICHAEL / BOISE STATE PUBLIC RADIO

The United States Supreme Court ruled on the case of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, citing acknowledging the same-sex union violated his religious belief. 

In the summer of 2012, fiancés David Mullins and Charlie Craig tried to order a wedding cake from a shop in a Denver suburb. The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to serve the same-sex couple because of his Christian beliefs. Now, the Supreme Court has sided with the baker, but not for the reason you might expect.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Congressman Raul Labrador says he’ll fight to defend Idaho's right to define marriage, cut off federal funding to health clinics providing abortions, and support stronger gun rights if elected governor.


Samantha Wright/BSPR

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist has removed language from his campaign website promising to fight to protect Idaho's right to define marriage.

Ahlquist is the only gubernatorial candidate whose website includes a resolution to protect the "sanctity of marriage."

Idaho Representative Steve Hartgen / Facebook

The Idaho House Revenue and Taxation Committee voted Tuesday to bring the state's tax code in line with federal rules, despite facing objections from two lawmakers who argued the state should not be recognizing same-sex marriages.

Some states are trying to pass religious freedom laws. Utah's legislature has protected religious groups and advocates for same-sex marriage. Steve Inskeep talks to state Senator Stuart Adams.

The Hitching Post / Facebook

A northern Idaho city has settled a lawsuit brought by wedding chapel owners who oppose same-sex marriage.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Coeur d'Alene agreed Friday to pay the Hitching Post $1,000 but not to change its non-discrimination ordinance. The city attorney says the city hopes the settlement will save taxpayers' money.

The city's ordinance makes it illegal to discriminate because of sexual orientation but includes an exception for religious organizations.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Great Seal of Idaho
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers have sent a tax conformity bill back to the drawing board because it would have removed an unenforceable rule banning joint returns from same-sex couples.

telephone, buttons, hotline
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

October 15 marked the one year anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Idaho. KBSX recently shared an interview with two Boise women who'd sued the state over the issue. Rachel and Amber Beierle talked about how their lives had changed since the decision. Since then, we've asked listeners to call in and offer their thoughts on the issue. 

Here is a sample of those responses. The comments have been edited for brevity only. 

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

 Thursday marks one year since same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho. That means it’s also the one year wedding anniversary for Rachael and Amber Beierle. The Beierlies are one of four couples who sued to overturn Idaho’s ban on gay marriage. We heard from them several times over the course of their lawsuit.

This week, our Adam Cotterell checked in with the couple to see how their lives have changed. The biggest difference, Amber says, is a third member in their family...who was also there for our interview. Hear all three Beierlies by clicking play.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

It's been one year since same-sex marriage has been legal in Idaho. While supporters celebrated the change, critics said it would erode traditional marriage values in the state.

We're curious - has the new rule changed your life? If so, how?

We've set up a hotline where you can offer your thoughts. The number is 208-426-3671. We ask that you keep your comments to a minute or less. Please note: some submissions may be used by KBSX in an on-air segment or as podcast material.

Thank you for participating! We look forward to hearing from you.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho had to dip into its bank account Monday to pay for three lawsuits the state has recently lost. The price tag is more than $800,000 dollars.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A Christian advocacy group is arguing that a federal judge should not dismiss their lawsuit against a northern Idaho city, challenging that the city's anti-discrimination ordinance violates the wedding chapel owners' religious rights.

Attorneys on both sides of the issue presented their arguments in U.S. District Court on Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush is expected to issue a decision in the next few weeks.

The Alliance Defending Freedom contends that the Coeur d'Alene ordinance compels Hitching Post owners Don and Lynn Knapp to perform same-sex marriages.

Photo Fhiend / Flickr Creative Commons

With last week’s Supreme Court decision, same-sex couples around Idaho were able to breathe a sigh of relief. But state Republican leaders say they're not done opposing same sex marriage.

Idaho GOP Executive Director David Johnston says the Supreme Court’s decision leaves a lot unanswered for people who say their religious freedoms are being infringed upon. He says the justices' ruling was an example of judicial activism and overreach.

SP8254 - On a Break! / Flickr Creative Commons

The Supreme Court’s decision Friday makes same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. But it’s been legal in Idaho since last fall.

“It changes nothing for Idaho, nothing at all,” Shaakirrah Sanders says.

Northwest politicians reacted Friday to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The Supreme Court has declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States.

Gay and lesbian couples already can marry in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The court's ruling on Friday means the remaining 14 states, in the South and Midwest, will have to stop enforcing their bans on same-sex marriage.

The outcome is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally.

    

A new lawsuit in Idaho claims the same legal argument that paved the way for gay marriage in the state should also make it illegal to refuse to hire gay people.

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Six same-sex couples in northern Idaho who received marriage licenses before state officials say a federal court made such unions legal are being given a unique state-approved opportunity for a do-over.

Northern Idaho officials are offering a marriage license application that has the unusual option of selecting already married.

The application available only to the six same-sex couples in Latah County who married in early October is intended to allow them to get a new application without denying they're already married.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

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.

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