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Marriage Equality

Alaskan Gov. Will 'Defend Our (Antigay) Constitution'

Alaskan Gov. Will 'Defend Our (Antigay) Constitution'

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'As Alaska's governor, I have a duty to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution,' said Gov. Sean Parnell while promising to appeal a ruling striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

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Same-sex couples are already getting legally married in Alaska after Sunday night's ruling finding the state's ban on their marriages unconstitutional, but that won't stop the governor from trying to stand in the way of the growing march to equality.

In announcing his intent to appeal Sunday's ruling, Alaska governor Sean Parnell, a Republican, pointed to his duty to uphold the Alaska constitution, which was one of the first state constitutions amended by voters to outlaw same-sex marriages, back in 1998.

"As Alaska's governor, I have a duty to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution," Parnell said in a press release Monday. "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."

However, as BuzzFeed's legal editor Chris Geidner notes, when he was sworn into office, Parnell also took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which, according to U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess, requires states to provide citizens with due process and equal protection of the laws -- including access to marriage.

Parnell's reference to the Ninth Circuit panel refers to last Tuesday's ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in which a three-judge panel unanimously struck down anti-marriage equality laws in Idaho and Nevada. Because the Ninth Circuit holds jurisdiction over several states -- including Alaska -- officials in some states have interpreted the ruling as binding regarding bans on same-sex marriage in those states.

That was the case in Nevada, where state officials stopped defending the ban on same-sex marriage after the Ninth Circuit decision, allowing same-sex couples to begin marrying last week. The Ninth Circuit today ordered that same-sex couples be able to marry in Idaho beginning Wednesday, while marriage equality is already the law of the land in Washington, Oregon, and California.

That leaves just Montana, Arizona, and Alaska as remaining Ninth Circuit states that have yet to embrace the freedom to marry. While officials in both Montana and Arizona yet to discuss publicly how they might interpret the Ninth Circuit's ruling, equality advocates in Arizona are asking the outgoing attorney general to stop defending the state's marriage ban in court and let same-sex couples in the state marry as soon as possible, reports the Phoenix New Times.

At press time, same-sex couples in 29 states and the District of Columbia can marry -- that number will increase to 30 on Wednesday, when Idaho is slated to embrace marriage equality.

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Sunnivie Brydum

Sunnivie is the managing editor of The Advocate, and an award-winning journalist whose passion is covering the politics of equality and elevating the unheard stories of our community. Originally from Colorado, she and her spouse now live in Los Angeles, along with their three fur-children: dogs Luna and Cassie Doodle, and "Meow Button" Tilly.
Sunnivie is the managing editor of The Advocate, and an award-winning journalist whose passion is covering the politics of equality and elevating the unheard stories of our community. Originally from Colorado, she and her spouse now live in Los Angeles, along with their three fur-children: dogs Luna and Cassie Doodle, and "Meow Button" Tilly.