Same-sex marriage in Alaska has been legal since October 12, 2014, following a ruling of a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Alaska in the case Hamby v. Parnell. The court held that Alaska's statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution. The state sought to appeal the ruling to the United States Supreme Court, though on October 17, 2014, the court denied Alaska's request for a stay of the District Court ruling.[1]

Though Alaska is one a few states which enforces a three-day waiting period between requesting a marriage license and conducting a marriage ceremony, several same-sex couples had the waiting period waived in the immediate aftermath of the District Court's ruling.[2][3]

On May 12, 2014, five same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Anchorage challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban.[4] The suit named Governor Sean Parnell as the primary defendant.[5] The state's brief, filed on June 19, said that the questions the plaintiffs raised were political, not legal. It said that under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution "Alaska has the right as a sovereign state to define and regulate marriage" and "Alaska voters had a fundamental right to decide the important public policy issue of whether to alter the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman."[6] District Court Judge Timothy Burgess scheduled oral argument for October 10.[7]

On Sunday, October 12, 2014, less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review similar cases from the Ninth Circuit Court Appeals, Latta v. Otter and Sevcik v. Sandoval, Judge Burgess ruled for the plaintiffs and declared Alaska's statutory and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.[8] He issued an injunction effective immediately.[9] The same day, Governor Sean Parnell announced that he would appeal the ruling and "defend our constitution." The head of the state Bureau of Vital Statistics commented, "The license application begins the three-day waiting period before the license can be issued. All marriages in Alaska must have the marriage license issued before the ceremony is performed. We expect our office will be busy tomorrow [October 13] but we will make every effort to help customers as quickly as possible."[10] In Barrow, Alaska a same-sex marriage took place when Magistrate Mary Treiber waived the state's three-day waiting period and married Kristine Hilderbran and Sarah Ellis on October 13, 2014.[11] On October 13, the state asked the district court to issue a stay pending appeal, which was denied.[12]

On October 15, 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from both Alaska and Idaho, denied a stay request by Idaho to prevent same sex couples from marrying there; however, the stay request was denied in a strongly worded opinion.[13] This denial serves as a precendent for the entire Ninth Circuit, which includes Idaho, Alaska, Montana, and Arizona. As such, the Ninth Circuit denied the states's request for a stay on October 15; however, in the same order it granted a temporary stay until 12:00 noon PDT on October 17[14] to allow Alaska to attempt to obtain a longer stay from the United States Supreme Court.[15] The Supreme Court denied a stay in a one-sentence statement.[16] Same-sex marriage ceremonies proceeded following dissolution of the Ninth Circuit's temporary stay.[17]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. Text of the Supreme Court order denying stay
  2. North Carolina and Alaska issue same-sex marriage licenses
  3. Alaska governor promises appeal after judge strikes down gay marriage ban
  4. Couples Challenging Alaska Gay-Marriage Ban. ABC News (May 13, 2014). Retrieved on May 13, 2014.
  5. Couples file suit to overturn Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage. Anchorage Daily News (May 12, 2014). Retrieved on May 13, 2014.
  6. "Alaska's same-sex marriage ban doesn't violate couples' rights", Alaska Dispatch News, June 19, 2014. Retrieved on July 25, 2014. 
  7. "Arguments Set in Challenge to Alaska's Gay Marriage Ban", Edge, New York, July 24, 2014. Retrieved on July 25, 2014. 
  8. Hamby v. Parnell. U. S. District Court, District of Alaska. Retrieved on October 13, 2014.
  9. "Federal judge rules Alaska's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional", Alaska Dispatch News, October 12, 2014. Retrieved on October 13, 2014. 
  10. "State vows to appeal after Alaska's same-sex marriage ban struck down", Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved on October 13, 2014. 
  12. "Judge denies stay on rejection of Alaska's same-sex marriage ban". Retrieved on 15 October 2014. 
  13. Order re:. United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Retrieved on 16 October 2014.
  14. 9th Circuit grants temporary stay of Alaska same-sex marriages. Retrieved on 16 October 2014.
  15. Stay Denied, Temporary Stay to allow for stay request to US Supreme Court. US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Retrieved on 16 October 2014.
  17. Alaska Gay Couples Apply for Marriage Licenses (ABC News)

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Same-sex unions in the United States

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