Federal Judge Slays Idaho’s Gay Marriage Ban, Orders Marriages To Begin on Friday

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
May 14 2014 10:25 AM

Federal Judge Slays Idaho’s Gay Marriage Ban, Orders Marriages To Begin on Friday

shutterstock_139254659_1_1
Some gems can go on fingers starting Friday.

spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

On Tuesday evening, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale struck down Idaho’s gay marriage ban, holding the law to violate both the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Dale’s sweeping 57-page opinion provides a comprehensive history of individual liberty and minority rights in America, concluding that:

The Plaintiffs are entitled to extraordinary remedies because of their extraordinary injuries. Idaho’s Marriage Laws withhold from them a profound and personal choice, one that most can take for granted. By doing so, Idaho’s Marriage Laws deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status. Plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love.
Advertisement

Intriguingly, Dale applied “strict scrutiny” to her due process analysis and “heightened scrutiny” to her equal protection evaluation, in effect providing gays with the highest level of constitutional protection. Although the Supreme Court hasn’t yet explained exactly how much protection the Constitution affords gay people, Dale shrugs off this ambiguity by noting that “the facts are clear and the law teaches that marriage is a fundamental right of all citizens ... [and] laws that implicate fundamental rights are subject to strict scrutiny.” She also refused to stay her order as the state appeals it, instead ordering same-sex marriages to begin on Friday at 9 a.m.

Apart from her refreshingly compassionate and legally coherent reasoning, Dale’s ruling is especially significant given Idaho’s startling history of anti-gay laws. For years, Idaho was the sole state in the country that punished sodomy with a life-sentence in prison. This punishment was only revoked by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Lawrence v. Texas—in 2003. Eleven years ago, a gay couple in Idaho could be thrown in jail for life. Starting Friday morning, they’ll be able to obtain a valid marriage license. Perhaps this is what Dale has in mind when she notes, in the peroration of her opinion, that "slow as the march toward equality may seem, it is never in vain." 

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 12:43 PM Watch Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey Do a Second City Sketch in 1997
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.