5 Same-sex couples file new federal marriage lawsuit in Alaska

Editor's note: On October 10, there will be oral arguments heard in this case. The judge is expected to rule soon after the hearing.

On May 12, 2014, private lawyers filed a federal lawsuit in Alaska, Hamby v. Parnell, on behalf of five same-sex couples either seeking the freedom to marry in the state and respect for marriages legally performed in other states. 

The lawsuit argues that a constitutional amendment in Alaska banning same-sex couples from marriage (passed in 1998) violates the United States Constitution. 

Heather Gardner, one of three Alaska lawyers serving as counsel in the case, explained via press release:

Under current Alaska law, a couple who marries in Seattle and returns home to Alaska are married in the eyes of the law when their plane lifts off from SeaTac, but are legal strangers when the flight touches down in Alaska. No Alaskan is a second class citizen.

The five plaintiff couples are all Alaska residents, with 4 of them holding marriage licenses from other states and seeking respect for those licenses in Alaska and one couple seeking the freedom to marry in their home state.

Matthew Hamby, one of the plaintiffs in the case, who married his partner Christopher Shelden last year in Utah, said: "We are taking a stand because marriage should be available to all loving couples. It’s important to us that our family is recognized by the State of Alaska and that we have the same rights and privileges as others."

The lawsuit joins 72 other lawsuits in a new total of 32 states/territories where same-sex couples are making the case for why marriage matters to all families. It is the first lawsuit to be filed in Alaska. In every state but three - South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana - litigation is pending seeking the freedom to marry or respect for marriages performed in other states. Read all about marriage litigation HERE. Thanks to Kathleen Perrin at Equality Case Files for the consistent filings on marriage cases. 

Read more about marriage litigation in the United States.