A federal magistrate judge struck down Idaho's ban on marriage equality Tuesday evening, ruling that it excludes same-sex couples from a personal choice heterosexual couples take for granted, the Idaho Statesman reported.
"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," Judge Candy Dale wrote in a 57-page decision. "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."
WTVB-TV reported that Gov. Butch Otter (R) pre-emptively filed a motion to appeal such a ruling. If the motion is denied, however, Dale's ruling would take effect at 9 a.m. local time Friday.
"In 2006, the people of Idaho exercised their fundamental right, reaffirming that marriage is the union of a man and a woman," Otter said in a statement. "Today's decision, while disappointing, is a small setback in a long-term battle that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court. I am firmly committed to upholding the will of the people and defending our Constitution."
The ban, known as Amendment 2, was instituted after garnering the support of 63 percent of state voters. But as LGBT advocacy group Freedom to Marry said in a statement, the ruling places it alongside similar measures that failed in the courts following the June 2013 Supreme Court decisions gutting California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
"From Idaho to Arkansas, Utah to Michigan, the courts are affirming that there is no good reason for government to deny marriage to committed couples," the group's president, Evan Wolfson, was quoted as saying. "As gay couples and their families begin to share in the joy and security of the freedom to marry, hearts and minds are opening, discrimination's barriers are falling, and we're moving our country to the right side of history."
[Image via Agence France-Presse]