Legal expert explains uncertainty surrounding same sex marriage - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Legal expert explains uncertainty surrounding same sex marriage in Idaho

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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -  "I think it's only a matter of time before this civil rights issue will be like others before it, such as; interracial marriage, or ending segregation, or women's rights," says Tony Stewart, a former civil law professor.  

On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared the gay marriage ban in both Idaho and Nevada unconstitutional. In less than 24 hours, same-sex marriage was placed on hold in Idaho by the U.S. Supreme Court after Idaho Governor "Butch" Otter requested an emergency response from Justice Anthony Kennedy.

"They (9th Circuit Court of Appeals) were asked to issue a stay and they refused, but that gives Justice Kennedy the power, which he used," says Stewart. 

In a statement, Governor Otter said "I intend to be faithful to my oath of office and keep working to protect the Idaho Constitution and the mandate of Idaho voters in support of traditional marriage." Otter, referring to an amendment to the constitution that was passed in 2006. 

"The voters of Idaho added an amendment to the constitution, and it's very, very restrictive. It doesn't allow same sex marriages, it doesn't allow civil unions and it doesn't allow domestic partnerships. It's probably the most restrictive state statute in the entire country," says Stewart. 

Governor Otter and other state officials now must put together a case to appeal the 9th circuit court's decision, but it's currently unclear how they'll go about this. 

"The state could ask the 9th circuit to convene the entire court which i think are 13 justices and they could review what the 3 justices decided, or they could ask the supreme court," says Stewart. 

Stewart adds it's not so much a matter of if same-sex marriage will be allowed, but when, calling the stay issued by the Supreme Court temporary. 
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