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Same-sex marriage in Idaho

Legal status of same-sex unions
  1. When performed in Mexican states that have legalized same-sex marriage
  2. When performed in the Netherlands proper

* Not yet in effect

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Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in Idaho since October 15, 2014.

In May 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Idaho in the case of Latta v. Otter found Idaho's statutory and state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but enforcement of that ruling was stayed pending appeal. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling on October 7, 2014, though the Supreme Court issued a stay of the ruling which was not lifted until October 15, 2014.


  • History 1
    • Statutes 1.1
    • Constitutional amendment 1.2
  • Federal lawsuit 2
  • Marriage licenses issued 3
  • Public opinion 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7



After the Hawaii Supreme Court seemed poised to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States for the first time in Baehr v. Miike (1993), the Idaho Legislature amended its marriage laws in 1995 to specifically specify that a marriage was to be between a man and a woman. The changes took effect January 1, 1996. Fearing it would have to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in Hawaii, Idaho further amended its marriage laws to prohibit recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages in 1996. Governor Phil Batt signed the legislation, which took immediate effect on March 18, 1996.[1]

Constitutional amendment

On February 11, 2004, the Idaho House of Representatives, by a 53 to 17 vote, approved of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and its "legal equivalent" in the state. The Idaho State Senate failed to vote on the amendment.[2] On February 2, 2005, the Idaho State Senate, by a 21-14 vote, failed to approve of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and any "legal status similar to that of marriage."[3] On February 6, 2006, the Idaho House of Representatives, by a 53 to 17 vote, approved of Amendment 2, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and any "domestic legal union" in the state. On February 15, 2006, the Idaho State Senate, by a 26-9 vote, approved the constitutional amendment. On November 7, 2006, voters approved a constitutional amendment.[4][5]

The amendment was found to be unconstitutional on May 13, 2014 by a federal district court. The ruling was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on October 7, 2014 and went into effect October 15, 2014.

Federal lawsuit

Four Idaho lesbian couples filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court in November 2013, challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. On May 13, 2014, U.S. Chief Magistrate Candy W. Dale ruled in Latta v. Otter that Idaho's constitutional and statutory prohibitions against same-sex marriage are unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. She wrote:[6]

The defendants offered no evidence that same-sex marriage would adversely affect opposite-sex marriages or the well-being of children. Without proof, the defendants' justifications echo the unsubstantiated fears that could not prop up the anti-miscegenation laws and rigid gender roles of days past.

The state appealed the ruling, and on May 20 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed enforcement of Dale's ruling pending the outcome of that appeal and ordered the case heard on an expedited basis.[7]

On October 7, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that the state's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, finding the ban violated the Fourteenth Amendment's right to equal protection.[8][9] Idaho's county clerks prepared to process marriage licenses for same-sex couples the following day, October 8,[10][11] until Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in response to a petition from state officials, granted an emergency stay of the Ninth Circuit's implementation of its decision.[12] On October 10, 2014, Justice Kennedy, after consulting with the other members of the Supreme Court, denied the request for a stay and vacated the temporary stay.[13]

On October 10, the Latta plaintiffs asked the Ninth Circuit to lift the stay of the district court's order that it had imposed on May 20.[14] The Ninth Circuit gave the parties until October 13 to reply.[15] On October 13, the Ninth Circuit lifted its stay of the district court's order enjoining Idaho officials from enforcing the state's ban on same-sex marriage.[16] The court's lifting of the stay went into effect October 15, 2014.

On October 10, Governor Otter announced that he would no longer contest the ruling in Latta and that state agencies would comply when the Ninth Circuit requires Idaho to provide marriage rights to same-sex couples.[17] On October 14, he announced that his office planned to continue defending the state's ban on same-sex marriage.[18] On October 21, he filed a petition for en banc rehearing by the Ninth Circuit.[19] The plaintiffs filed a response to the petition opposing an en banc rehearing on November 10, 2014.[20] The Ninth Circuit denied the request for rehearing en banc on January 9, 2015.[21]

Marriage licenses issued

Latah County issued six marriage licenses to same-sex couples on October 10, 2014, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay on the Ninth Circuit ruling in Latta but before the Ninth Circuit issued its mandate ordering the state to comply with the ruling.[22]

On October 15, 2014, approximately 100 same-sex couples obtained a marriage license at the Ada county clerk's offices.[23]

Public opinion

Public opinion for same-sex marriage in Idaho
Poll source Date(s)
Margin of
% support % opposition % no opinion
Public Policy Polling October 9–12, 2014 522 likely voters ± 4.3% 38% 57% 5%
New York Times/CBS News/YouGov September 20-October 1, 2014 594 likely voters ± 4.7% 33% 51% 16%

See also


  1. ^
  5. ^ CNN: 2006 Key Ballot Measures,; Idaho State Legislature: Article III, Section 28
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Nevada, Idaho Gay-Marriage Bans Ruled Illegal by Court
  9. ^
  10. ^ Same-sex marriage begins in Idaho as 9th Circuit lifts stay
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links

  • United States District Court for the District of Idaho: RulingLatta v. Otter:
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