Boise State University professor David Adler argues that, after the recent decisions in Utah, which give us an idea of how last summer’s DOMA decision will be used as precedent in challenges all over the nation, marriage bans in states like Idaho could become remarkably easier to overturn:
The bricks in the walls surrounding Idaho’s constitutional provisions and laws barring same-sex marriage were significantly loosened last week by two federal court rulings, including a pivotal decision in conservative Utah that struck down state bans on marriage equality.
The rulings in Utah and Ohio provide a powerful head of precedential steam for a lawsuit filed last month in Idaho’s federal district court, challenging both the Gem State’s ban on gay marriage and its refusal to recognize the validity of the marriage of same-sex couples in other states.
Though not bound by recent rulings in Utah and Ohio, the federal judge in the pending case surely will grapple with their premises, reasoning and conclusions, each of which draws deeply from the language and reasoning employed by Justice Anthony Kennedy in his opinion for the U.S. Supreme Court last June, when it struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor.
Judge Robert J. Shelby’s decision in the Utah case, which has a direct bearing on the Idaho Constitution, was significant to the national drive for same-sex marriage. It represents the first time a federal court has ruled on the constitutionality of state bans on gay marriage since the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. Judge Shelby held that state laws barring same-sex marriage violate the due process clause and the equal protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment.
People in even the reddest states are now seeing that, in light of Utah, anything can happen. We may have nationwide marriage equality far sooner than we ever realized, seeing as it has been established that states can show no rational purpose for discriminating against gay and lesbian couples in marriage law. Go read the whole thing.