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Marriage Equality

Alaska Marriage Ban Struck Down

Alaska Marriage Ban Struck Down


A federal judge issued a ruling Sunday finding the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and it looks as if it will go into effect immediately, although Gov. Sean Parnell says he will appeal.

A federal judge Sunday struck down Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess released a decision this afternoon, writing "The court finds that Alaska's ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same sex marriages lawfully entered in other states is unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution," reports the Alaska Dispatch News. Burgess heard oral arguments in the case Friday.

He enjoins the state from enforcing the ban, so it appears same-sex couples will be able to begin marrying immediately, the paper reports. "We're completely overjoyed," Caitlin Shortell, an attorney who represented couples in the suit, filed in May, told the Dispatch News. "It's an immediate injunction from further enforcement of the [law banning same-sex marriage], so people are going to start getting married."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which includes Alaska, last week struck down marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho. Marriage equality advocates said the Alaska ban would probably fall because it was similar to the bans in those two states.

However, Gov. Sean Parnell issued a statement Sunday saying he will appeal the ruling, Anchorage TV station KTUU reports. "As Alaska's governor, I have a duty to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution," he said in the statement. "Although the district court today may have been bound by the recent Ninth Circuit panel opinion, the status of that opinion and the law in general in this area is in flux. I will defend our constitution."

Assuming the Alaska ruling goes into effect, it brings the number of states with marriage equality to 30, plus the District of Columbia. Read Burgess's ruling here, and check back for updates as the story develops.

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