In yet another sign of the inevitability of marriage equality, U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale has struck down Idaho’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the grounds that it violates the rights of same-sex couples. Unless a higher court issues an injunction barring the ruling from taking effect, marriages will be permitted starting this coming Friday.
Gov. Butch Otter (no, really, that is his name) issued a statement that deserves a special place in the annals of alternate reality. “Today’s decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court,” Otter said. In the same sense that the Battle of Yorktown was a small setback to the British Empire in America. Otter has promised to seek a stay prohibiting marriages from proceeding.
Given the string of unbroken victories in court, the news isn’t surprising, but it’s certainly welcome. Neighboring Washington already has marriage equality, and nearby Oregon is inching closer to it. While Idaho is hardly the most cosmopolitan of states, if Arkansas can approve marriage equality, is there any place left that cannot?
Of course, that doesn’t stop the right wing from freaking out. Former Arkansas governor and current troglodyte Mike Huckabee wants Chris Piazza, the judge in the Arkansas case, impeached for, well, following the law or, as Huckabee prefers to express it “massacre of the law and the will of the people.”
Meantime, the momentum just keeps building. Five couples in Alaska have filed a lawsuit challenging that state’s ban on marriage equality. Gov. Sean Parnell and Attorney General Michael Geraghty have pledged to uphold the ban, which was passed by voters, although Geraghty seems concerned about how history will view him.
“Would everybody vote the same way today? Who knows? But it’s on the books,” Geraghty told the AP in February. “Eventually, as I said, one day there will be guidance. I’m sure one day there will be a decision one way or the other. And when that happens, obviously we will comply with the decision.” In short, he’s not about to show courage any sooner than he has to.
At the opposite end of the country, a federal court in Virginia heard arguments Monday in an appeal of a ruling striking down the state’s marriage ban. The three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court of Appeals seemed divided on the issue, with Judge Paul Niemeyer clearly in support of the ban and Judge Roger Gregory in opposition to it. That leaves Judge Henry Floyd, who was appointed by President George W. Bush but is often politically independent in his rulings.
The Virginia case is important because that’s the one that Theodore Olsen and David Boies, the attorneys who argued the challenge to California’s Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court, are targeting to bring back to SCOTUS to settle marriage equality once and for all. In the meantime, though, just let those victories keep rolling along.