Idaho officials are requesting the U.S. Supreme Court overturn a circuit-court ruling that legalized gay marriage there last year. Gov. Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden made separate appeals to the nation’s highest court this week, with each making the case that it is a state’s-rights issue and that Idaho has been consistent in legalizing only hetrosexual marriage.
Both Republican officials argued that, by taking their case, the court could deliver a decision of national significance. Previous appeals of same-sex marriage rulings have been denied by the Supreme Court, which could decide in January whether to hear appeals by several other states. So far, federal appellate courts have been consistent in striking down gay-marriage bans, most citing the high court’s ruling last year vacating certain provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
“This case presents the court with the opportunity to resolve a divisive split on a question of nationwide importance: whether the United States Constitution now prohibits states from maintaining the traditional definition of civil marriage, i.e., between one man and one woman,” Wasden said in his petition, the Associated Press reported.
Otter also said the Supreme Court should consider their case on the merits of the argument against gay marriage, saying Idaho has staunchly defended marriage as being only between a man and woman. “It is important that at least one of the cases this court considers on the merits be a case in which the traditional definition of marriage has been defended with the most robust defense available,” AP quoted Otter as arguing in his filing. “This is that case.”
Idaho is appealing an October decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down the state’s prohibition of gay marriage, a ruling on which AP reported at the time. The decision in Idaho came only a day after the Supreme Court had refused to take up other appeals and made rulings legalizing same-sex marriage in other states effective.
The Idaho officials are proving they are willing to take the fight as far as they can. The state has already racked up $400,000 in legal bills from the district-court fight, which include the legal fees of the couples who sued the state to gain the right to marry and have their marriages from other states recognized, the Spokesman-Review reported. Otter, whose appeal was filed by a Washington-based attorney, has spent $100,000 on outside attorneys, the paper said.
Idaho is just one of many states being swept up in a tidal wave of state bans on same-sex marriage being overturned. For example, Florida officials will be required to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Tuesday after a federal court struck down efforts by some local offices to circumvent an earlier order, as reported by the Washington Post.