Idaho reaction to Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage

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by Justin Corr

NWCN.com

Posted on June 26, 2013 at 6:07 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 1:55 PM

BOISE -- Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings are sparking strong reaction in Idaho.

Those rulings on same-sex marriage allow gay marriage in California to resume, and in the 12 states and District of Columbia that recognize gay marriage, clear the way for same-sex couples to get federal benefits.

"This was an interesting mix of defense of 'Equal protection under the law,' but also, a promotion of federalism, and a defense of states' rights," said Dr. David Adler from the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University.

Adler touches on the exact point that Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, focused on, states' rights. In Idaho, marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. Sixty-three percent of Idaho voters backed that constitutional amendment in 2006, and that doesn't change with these decisions.

Risch said, "Regardless of how you feel about the issue, it's important that people recognize that the sovereign is not the federal government, under the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution it's the state government. And the Supreme Court recognized that."

But Dr. Adler says while these decisions won't affect Idaho legally, they will be felt here politically. "This adds tremendous momentum to that cause and its implications politically will be felt nationwide."

Supporters of gay marriage believe no matter what state you're in, that this is a step in the right direction for their cause.

Minerva Jayne with Boise Pride says the tide is turning, even right here in Idaho. "I think Idaho is waking up and realizing that when it all comes down to it, freedom is what's most important to people in the state of Idaho, I think, and that means freedom for everybody."

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden confirmed that these decisions will have no direct impact on Idaho. He says Idaho's constitutional provisions on marriage remain in place and he will continue enforcing the law. However, he also said his staff is still reviewing the opinion to figure out if these decisions create any conflicts.

Adler went on to say that there is an open legal question on which federal marriage benefits, if any, can be claimed by same-sex couple wed in a state where that's legal, and living in a state where it's not, like Idaho.

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