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Idaho Governor Butch Otter Vows to Continue Wasting Taxpayer Money Fighting Gay Marriage

Marriage equality is already the law of the land in Idaho, thanks to the Ninth Circuit's mandate striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. But you wouldn't know that listening to Governor Butch Otter, who continues to treat the courtroom battle over gay marriage as a winnable campaign issue.

OtterAt a gubernatorial debate last night, Otter declared he's "not ready to surrender to a few folks in black robes," The Huffington Post reports:

When Idaho adopted a constitutional amendment in 2006 banning same-sex marriage, "those people were voting for a value that they had and they were expressing that," he said.

A.J. Balukoff, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, said Otter was fighting "a losing battle."

"At this point, the ship has sailed," Balukoff said. "You're not going to win that battle in federal court. You might as well start arguing about interracial marriage."

Last week, we reported Otter had filed a long-shot petition asking the full Ninth Circuit to re-hear the case challenging the state's gay marriage ban.

Curiously enough, the Associated Press adds Otter voiced support for extending non-discrimination protections to LGBT citizens should such a bill come to his desk. 

Although he voiced some reservations, Otter said he would sign legislation that would add the words "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to Idaho's Human Rights Act. Currently, same-sex couples may marry in Idaho but there is no legal protection if they are fired or kicked out of their homes.

Otter said there would be a hearing during the 2015 legislative session. However, it's ultimately up to state lawmakers to pass the bill.


Lewiston, Idaho Passes LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance

IdahoThe city of Lewiston, Idaho has become the 9th city in the state to ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation based on sexual orientation, gender identity or familial status. As The Lewiston Tribune reports, the vote came last night and the ordinance passed 5-2. 

One of the two "no" votes came from Mayor Pro Tem R.J. Johnson who previously commented that the ordinance would infringe “on our basic civil liberties." Councilor Clinton Daniels cast the other "no vote", surprising few as he was equally as concerned as Johnson in the lead up to the vote about how the legislation could lead to jail time and fines for those refusing to serve LGBT customers:

"My strong belief in liberty compels me to oppose ordinances that do not respect private property, freedom of association, and voluntary contracts; even when the stated goal of such ordinances is something I support.

When you engage in commerce, whether it be for a personal sale or a commercial one, it is a form of a contract, and in a free society all contracts should be voluntary."


Idaho State Senator Steve Vick Proposes Banning All Marriage Licenses Now That Gays Can Marry - LISTEN

Following the 9th Circuit’s decision striking down Idaho’s constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage, Idaho state Senator Steve Vick (R) is proposing a solution to what he sees is a gross governmental overreach, Right Wing Watch reports

Vick“If we’re not allowed to determine the standards for a marriage license, then maybe we should just not issue them.”  he explained to WorldNetDaily. “Another potential avenue that I’m exploring is just eliminating marriage licenses in Idaho.”

Vick went on to elaborate on his relatively extreme proposition, saying while he was only in the early stages of discussing it, he had found much interest at a number of local town halls.

Though Idaho Governor Butch Otter announced that he will comply with the 9th Circuit’s ruling earlier this month, he has made a point of stating that his office remains dedicated to the idea of traditional marriage. He has also filed a petitionn for the full 9th Circuit to re-hear the case challenging the state's gay marriage ban. 

“I continue to believe that the federal courts are mistaken in abandoning the sanctity of traditional marriage and in undermining the will of Idaho voters and each state’s right to define marriage,” he said in a statement. “We have done all we can through the courts for now to defend traditional marriage in Idaho.”

Sen. Vick echoed the Governor’s sentiment, but admitted that “these rulings will probably stand,” referring to the court’s refusal to hear appeals from other states in which judges dismissed constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions.

Listen to a clip of Idaho state senator Steve Vick’s interview with WorldNetDaily AFTER THE JUMP...

 

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Eric Holder Announces Federal Government Will Recognize Gay Marriages in Six More States

Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will recognize same-sex married couples in six additional states: Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Last week, Holder made a similar announcement regarding federal recognition of same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Colorado. 

Via press release:

The Attorney General’s announcement means couples married in these states will now qualify for a range of federal benefits, including those administered by the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs.

“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” the Attorney General said. “We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.”

In addition, the Attorney General also announced that the Department of Justice has determined it can legally recognize marriages performed in Indiana and Wisconsin this past June. These marriages were performed immediately after federal district courts ruled that those states’ bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, but subsequent developments created confusion about the status of those marriages. Based on the Attorney General’s announcement, however, those couples married during that period will now have their unions recognized by the federal government.


Coeur d'Alene, Idaho Says For-Profit Wedding Chapel Can Discriminate Against Gay Couples

Hitching post

The Coeur d'Alene, Idaho wedding chapel that has become the right-wing poster child for the clash between LGBT non-discrimination ordinances and anti-gay religious beliefs will now be permitted to turn away gay couples seeking marriage licenses, city officials announced today. 

Boise State Public Radio reports:

Initially, the city said its anti-discrimination law did apply to the Hitching Post, since it is a commercial business. Earlier this week, Coeur d'Alene city attorney Mike Gridley sent a letter to the Knapps’ attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom saying the Hitching Post would have to become a not-for-profit to be exempt.

But Gridley said after further review, he determined the ordinance doesn’t specify non-profit or for-profit.

“After we've looked at this some more, we have come to the conclusion they would be exempt from our ordinance because they are a religious corporation,” Gridley explained.

Court filings show the Hitching Post reorganized earlier this month as a “religious corporation.” In the paperwork, the owners describe their deeply held beliefs that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

Joshua Block, attorney for ACLU's LGBT Project writes:

As Jeremy Hooper notes, before the reorganizing the chapel billed itself as a place for "wedding ceremonies of other faiths as well as civil weddings." Leave it to the gays getting equal marriage rights though to throw right-wing religious folks into a full-blown tizzy. 


Alliance Defending Freedom Claims Anti-gay Idaho Wedding Chapel Never Sought Non-Profit Status - VIDEO

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Anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has posted a response to a letter from the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho relating to the litigation group's discrimination lawsuit on behalf of a local wedding chapel, reports Joe My God.

Donald and Evelyn Knapp, the owners of Hitching Post, a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, claim in the lawsuit that the city's ordinance prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians is unconstitutionally forcing them to violate their religious beliefs by performing same-sex marriages.

Back in May, the Knapps said that they would rather close their doors than perform same-sex wedding ceremonies.

The letter sent by the city to ADF on October 20th makes it clear that, although the Knapps registered their business as a religious corporation early this month, “based on the facts and their corporate status at the time [the couple refused to perform a same-sex wedding],” Hitching Post comes under the city’s non-discrimination order.

However, ADF has posted a response on its website backtracking on claims that Hitching Post has in fact been registered as a non-profit religious organization.  ADF has attacked the city’s “disingenuous waffling” and is now arguing that the Coeur d’Alene intends to “prosecute a for-profit business.”

Knapps“The city has said explicitly, repeatedly, and publicly that it would prosecute a for-profit business. That’s what the Hitching Post is, and it has never claimed to be anything other than that.

"While the Knapps do operate a ministry, they charge a fee for the ceremonies in order to be able to make a modest living. Therefore, the city, in its letter and elsewhere, is admitting that it would prosecute these pastors, who are clearly under a present threat of being sent to jail, fined, or both.

"The city has had months to figure out its own ordinance, and our clients have years of incarceration and devastating fines hanging over their heads. The city’s disingenuous waffling is indefensible.”

Earlier this month, the ADF began lobbying Slovakia's constitutional court to allow activists to place a referendum on the country's ballot that would reinforce the current bans on gay marriage, adoption, and domestic partner protections. The ADF's efforts in promoting bigotry abroad were profiled in Human Rights Campaign's "Export of Hate" report last month.

Watch an ABC report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

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