Idaho

Idaho

Latta v. Otter

The Path to Victory:

On October 15, 2014, same-sex couples began marrying across the state of Idaho thanks to this federal legal case, led by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The evening before, Governor Butch Otter said that he would not take any further steps to appeal a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Previously, stays in the ruling had been denied by both the 9th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit ruling was issued on October 7, affirming the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The ruling was an affirmation of a May 13 federal ruling in Latta v. Otter, which struck down the state's anti-marriage constitutional amendment. The lawsuit argued that laws in Idaho that restrict marriage to different-sex couples and refuse to respect legal marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states violate the United States Constitution's commitment to equal protection and due process. On October 22, Idaho Governor Butch Otter requested an en banc hearing. The request for an en banc hearing is a desperate, last-ditch effort, and based on this month's actions by the U.S. Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit, the attempts are very likely to fail.

Case Background

On November 8, 2013, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private lawyers filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of four same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry and respect for their out-of-state marriages in Idaho. The lawsuit arguest that laws in Idaho that restrict marriage to different-sex couples and refuse to respect legal marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states violate the United States Constitution's commitment to equal protection and due process. 

The plaintiffs all hail from Boise, Idaho, and three of them are raising children. They include: Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers, a professional artist and adjunct professor at Boise State University who are already legally married; Andrea Altmayer and Sheila Robertson, who want to marry in Idaho to ensure that their family, including their son, is recognized in the state; Lori and Sharene Watsen, who are legally married in New York; and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson, who previously served a tour of duty in Iraq as a member of the Idaho Army National Guard.

On February 19, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment in their case. 

On May 13, 2014, U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale, a federal judge in Idaho, ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, striking down the state’s discriminatory constitutional amendment that bans same-sex couples from marriage.

The ruling was set to take effect on Friday, May 16, until the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit temporarily granted the Governor of Idaho's request for a stay. On May 20, the 9th Circuit issued a stay throughout the proceedings and established an expedited briefing schedule.

Oral argument took place at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on September 8, and a ruling was issued just days later. 

Taylor v. Brasuell

The Path to Victory

On October 20, in light of the victory in Latta v. Otter, the widow Madelynn Taylor was finally able to secure a spot at the Idaho Veterans Cemetary for her and her wife's ashes.

Case Background

Madelynn and Jean were married in California in 2008. NCLR writes, "Taylor served in the Navy from 1958 to 1964. In 2013, she tried to make advance arrangements to have her ashes interred along with those of her wife in a granite columbarium at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, as other veterans and their spouses are permitted to do."

Madelynn added: "Idaho is where some of our best memories together are and it’s where I want to spend eternity with Jean. I could be buried here alone, but I don’t want to be alone. I want Jean with me forever."

On July 7, 2014, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private counsel from Boise-based attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Madelynn Lee Taylor, a military veteran seeking respect for her marriage in Idaho to her late wife, Jean Mixner. The 74-year-old Taylor wishes to be buried in the Idaho State Veterans Ceremony alongside Mixner, but Idaho laws restricting marriage to different-sex couples make that wish impossible.

The lawsuit argues that Idaho's refusal to respect the legal marriages of same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process.

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