Wednesday, October 15, 2014

County ready to wed same-sex couples

Decision follows ruling by attorney general

Express Staff Writer

    Blaine County is prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning today at 10 a.m., County Clerk JoLynn Drage said Tuesday.
    The county’s position is in accord with a directive from the Idaho Attorney General’s Office passed on Monday to all the counties in the state through an e-mail from the Idaho Association of Counties.
    The attorney general’s directive followed an order by the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday withdrawing a stay on a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage. On Monday, in accord with that order, the 9th Circuit Court granted a motion by the plaintiffs to dissolve a stay it had imposed on its ruling last week. The new order was to go into effect Wednesday at 9 a.m. PST.
    The association’s e-mail states that “[p]ursuant to the order each county is obligated to begin issuing licenses at the appointed time on the 15th and no sooner unless additional legal action occurs. …”
    Drage said Tuesday morning that she had not heard from any same-sex couples interested in obtaining a license.
    The legal wrangling over the issue is the result of a lawsuit filed about a year ago by four same-sex couple’s seeking to overturn an amendment to the Idaho Constitution, passed by voters in 2006, limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman.
    In a response to the plaintiffs’ motion filed Monday, the Idaho Attorney General’s Office stated that it would not oppose the motion. The response states that, given recent actions taken by the U.S. Supreme Court, the state has concluded it “cannot satisfy the stringent standards governing issuance of stays.”
    However, it does not appear that the state has given up its effort to defend its constitutional amendment.
    “Appellants’ non-opposition … does not reflect reconsideration of their position concerning the validity of Idaho’s marriage laws or the strength of their legal position,” the response states. “Nor does it reflect a determination not to pursue further review of the October 7 opinion [allowing same-sex marriage].
    Gov. Butch Otter has asked that the 9th Circuit’s decision be reviewed by a panel of 11 judges. The decision striking down Idaho’s gay marriage ban was made by three judges.

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