Four lesbian couples have filed a
federal lawsuit challenging Idaho's 2006 voter-approved
constitutional amendment excluding gay couples from marriage.
Idaho's amendment bans same-sex
marriage and civil unions. Similar prohibitions appear in state
The couples, all of whom are from
Boise, are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights
(NCLR) and Boise-based attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that
the state's marriage laws violate the United States Constitution's
guarantees of equal protection and due process.
“Idaho is part of the great Western
tradition that strongly values freedom and fairness,” Ferguson said
in an emailed statement. “Most people in this state, like most
Americans, believe that the law should respect individual freedom and
treat all families equally. The couples in this case deserve to be
treated with equal fairness and respect, including having the same
freedom to marry that others enjoy.”
The couples, three of whom are raising
children, are Sue Latta and Traci Ehlers, Lori and Sharene Watsen,
Sheila Robertson and Andrea Altmayer and Amber Beierle and Rachael
The Watsens legally married in New
Lori said that Idaho treats the pair as
if they were strangers.
“We are two dedicated, loving parents
who have made work and other life changes to be able to provide our
son a loving, safe home, but Idaho does not recognize me as his legal
parent, so I have no official status in his life,” Lori said. “We
have been forced to go through special legal steps and incur costs to
protect our family as much as possible, but those measures cannot
replace all of the protections that are given to married couples.”
The case, Latta v. Otter, names
Idaho Governor C.L. Butch Otter, a Republican, as a defendant.
Similar lawsuits have proliferated
throughout the nation after the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck
down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prohibited
federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay couples.
The court found the law to be unconstitutional.