(San Francisco, CA, September 8, 2014)—Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit heard oral argument in the Idaho marriage equality case, Latta v. Otter, in San Francisco.
The case was brought by four same-sex couples, Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers, Lori and Sharene Watsen, Shelia Robertson and Andrea Altmayer, and Amber Beierle and Rachael Robertson. Boise attorney Deborah Ferguson of Ferguson Durham LLP argued on behalf of the couples that Idaho’s laws barring same-sex couples from marrying and prohibiting the state from respecting the marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. In addition to Ferguson, the couples are represented by Craig Durham of Ferguson Durham and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
Ninth Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Marsha S. Berzon, and Ronald M. Gould heard the case, as well as marriage equality cases from Hawaii and Nevada. Since the Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Tenth, Fourth, Sixth, and Seventh Circuits have heard oral arguments in marriage equality cases. The Tenth Circuit issued rulings on June 25th and July 17th in cases from Utah and Oklahoma. The Fourth Circuit issued a ruling on July 28th in a case from Virginia, and the Seventh Circuit ruled on September 4th in cases from Indiana and Wisconsin. All of these decisions held that state laws barring same-sex couples from marrying are unconstitutional.
Said Ferguson: “Today’s arguments reflected the Ninth Circuit panel’s thorough preparation and careful attention to the serious constitutional issues raised by Idaho’s discriminatory marriage laws. In the past few months, three other federal appeals courts have ruled that laws that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry deprive their families of equal dignity in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. We hope the Ninth Circuit will reach the same conclusion and strike down these unjust laws.”
Added Latta: “Traci and I were thrilled to be able to watch our case being argued in one of our country’s most important courts. The judges clearly have studied the case very carefully, and we are hopeful the court will rule soon that the state must treat our family with the same respect as it treats other families.”
Said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter: “Idaho’s same-sex couples deserve to be treated as equal citizens with the same dignity and security as other families. Over the past year, nearly every court to consider the issue has held that laws barring same-sex couples from marriage are unconstitutional after considering the real hardships these laws impose on these couples and their children and the complete absence of any legitimate reason for doing so. The time to bring an end to these laws has come.”