Same-sex couples in Idaho could get married as soon as Friday morning after a federal judge struck down the state's gay marriage ban, saying it is unconstitutional and wrongly relegates same-sex couples to second-class citizen status. The judge said the state must start issuing same-sex marriage licenses beginning at 9am Friday, but Gov. Butch Otter—describing the ruling as "a small setback in a long-term battle"—plans to appeal the case and has filed a motion seeking an immediate stay, the Idaho Statesman reports.
Idaho's marriage laws "deny same-sex couples the economic, practical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of marriage, relegating each couple to a stigmatized, second-class status," the judge wrote, and "plaintiffs suffer these injuries not because they are unqualified to marry, start a family, or grow old together, but because of who they are and whom they love." A lawyer for four couples who challenged the ban described the ruling as a "victory not only for the courageous couples who brought this case, but for everyone who cares about freedom and fairness," the AP reports. In Arkansas, meanwhile, where a judge struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban last week, gay couples are rushing to get married before the state's Supreme Court can reinstate the ban, reports the New York Times. (Read more Idaho stories.)