Five Couples File Suit Challenging Alaska’s Gay Marriage Ban

Five couples have filed suit challenging Alaska's ban on gay marriage, the Alaska Dispatch reports:

AlaskaThe lawsuit, Hamby v. Parnell, filed on behalf of Anchorage resident Matthew Hamby, his partner, and four other couples, is considered the first challenge of the Alaska constitutional amendment since courts around the nation have started to strike down marriage bans, according to attorney Caitlin Shortell.

Shortell is one of three attorneys representing the plaintiffs. The lawsuit challenges the Alaska constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, arguing that it violates the couples' due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Alaska voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1998 that said marriage could only exist between a man and woman.

…Allison Mendel, who is also representing the plaintiffs, said there was no way she could not get involved with a suit like this. She ran the opposition campaign to the constitutional amendment in 1998 and has brought multiple suits on behalf of same-sex couples over the years.

She expects the state to defend the ban, though the attorneys are committed through the entire process.

The suit was filed in Anchorage, the AP reports:

The plaintiffs are Matthew Hamby and Christopher Shelden; Christina LaBorde and Susan Tow; Sean Egan and David Robinson; Tracey Wiese and Katrina Cortez; and Courtney Lamb and Stephanie Pearson. Lamb and Pearson are unmarried.

Hamby, in a statement, said he and his husband — who, according to the lawsuit were married in Canada in 2008 and renewed their vows in Utah last year — are taking a stand "because marriage should be available to all loving couples. It's important to us that our family is recognized by the State of Alaska and that we have the same rights and privileges as others."