A federal appeals court declared gay marriage legal in Idaho and Nevada yesterday, a day after the US Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage in 30 other states. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down the two states' bans on gay marriage, ruling they violated equal protection rights. "This is a supersweet victory," says Sue Latta, who along with Traci Ehlers sued Idaho last year to compel the state to recognize their 2008 marriage in California. Three other couples also joined the lawsuit to invalidate Idaho's same-sex marriage ban. "Taxes are easier, real estate is easier, parenting is easier, end-of-life planning is easier," Latta says.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel that laws that treat people differently based on sexual orientation are unconstitutional unless there is a compelling government interest. He rejected the argument that same-sex marriages will devalue traditional marriage, leading to more out-of-wedlock births, saying it "reflects a crass and callous view of parental love and the parental bond that is not worthy of response." But exactly when same-sex weddings will happen in Idaho and Nevada is unclear. Nevada's governor and attorney general—who stopped defending the ban earlier this year—issued a joint statement saying it could be two weeks before a final order is issued by a US District Court judge in Nevada, and county clerks and district attorneys should be making plans to handle marriage licenses. A spokesman for Idaho's attorney general says his office believes a previous 9th Circuit stay on marriages pending a US Supreme Court appeal remains in place. (Read more gay marriage stories.)