A federal appeals court has rejected
Alaska's request for a full court review of a judge's ruling striking
down the state's ban on gay marriage.
On October 7, a 3-judge panel of the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco unanimously struck
down bans in Idaho and Nevada as unconstitutional. The ruling
affected all states within the court's jurisdiction, including
Alaska, Arizona and Montana. Only Arizona and Nevada implemented the
court's ruling without a fight.
Three days later, U.S. District Court
Judge Timothy Burgess heard oral arguments in a case challenging
Alaska's first-in-the-nation ban, approved in 1998. In ruling
against the ban, Burgess said that it violates the 14th
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs in the case, Hamby
v. Parnell, are an unmarried couple and four couples who
married in a state where such unions are legal. Lead plaintiffs
Matthew Hamby and Christopher Shelden (pictured) married in 2008 in
The state started issuing marriage
licenses to gay couples after the Supreme Court refused to stay
Burgess' ruling as the state pursues an appeal.
Outgoing Republican Governor Sean
Parnell asked the Ninth Circuit for an en banc appeal,
skipping the customary 3-judge panel. The state believes its
arguments are more likely to prevail before a larger 11-judge panel.
Despite having criticized Parnell's
defense as an “unwise”use of state funds, Governor-elect Bill
Walker, an independent, said that his administration was evaluating
whether to continue defending the ban in court.
“Despite my personal views on
marriage, with the state's dire financial crisis, pursuing expensive
litigation that has little chance of victory is an unwise use of our
dwindling resources,” Walker said in October.
The state's bill has already surpassed
$100,000 and could hit $359,000 if the state is ordered to pay
plaintiffs attorneys' fees, the News
While the state's appeal won't be heard
by an 11-judge panel, it remains active.