Court Overturns Alaska’s Marriage Amendment, Governor Responds

same sex marriageOn Sunday, October 12, a ruling in US District Court by US District Judge Timothy Burgess’s was issued overturning the 16 year ban on same-sex marriage in the state of Alaska.

It was in 1998, the state of Alaska, along with Hawaii, passed an amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and woman. That 1998 amendment would make Alaska and Hawaii the first two states to do so.

In May of this year, five same-sex couples sued the state of Alaska to have the constitutional amendment overturned. Four of those couples were already lawfully married in other states, while the fifth couple is seeking to get married in the state of Alaska. All of the couples wish to have their commitments legally recognized in the state.

The defendants in the case, is Gov. Sean Parnell, Atty. Gen. Michael Geraaghty, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and social services, William Streur, and section chief of the division of Public health, Philip Mitchell.

On Sunday, the motion for summary judgment by the five couples was granted. The court found that “Alaska’s band 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 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

the US District Court ordered that “the state of Alaska, including state officers, personnel, agents, government divisions, and other political entities must desist from enforcing Alaska Constitution article 1, section 25 and Alaska statute sections 25.05.011 and 25.05.013 to the extent that the laws prohibit otherwise qualified same-sex couples from marriage and refusing to recognize lawful same-sex marriages entered in other states.”

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State Governor candidate Bill Walker responded Sunday to the decision by the U.S. District Court, striking down Alaska’s 1998 constitutional amendment defining marriage between a man and woman:

“I continue to view marriage as the union of a man and a woman. However, as governor, I will place my hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the laws of the land.
Governor Parnell has indicated he will appeal Sunday’s district court decision.  Upon taking office, I will review all major litigation in which the State is involved and determine the merits of pursuit, settlement or dismissal.

Despite my personal views on marriage, with the State’s dire financial crisis, pursuing expensive litigation that has little chance of victory is an unwise use of our dwindling resources. “

In response, Alaska’s Gov. Sean Parnell announced on Sunday that “the state will appeal the US District Court’s ruling.”

“As Alaska’s governor, I have a duty to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution,” said Governor Parnell. “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.”