U.S. District Judge Brian Morris (pictured) has ruled that Montana's ban on same-sex marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, thus making it unconstitutional. Morris' order is effective immediately and is not stayed, though the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court may still intervene and stay the decision. As Think Progress reports, Morris relied heavily on the Ninth Circuit's decision which struck down marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada but also tackled head on the question of Baker v. Nelson's role in determining whether there exists a constitutional right to marriage, a subject even more in the spotlight now following the Sixth Circuit's ruling which upheld marriage bans:
Montana, like many states before it, had argued that Baker v. Nelson, a 1972 case about same-sex marriage that the Supreme Court decided not to hear, was controlling and thus the court could not challenge the precedent. Here’s how Morris handled that argument:
"Defendants contend that Plaintiffs’ complaint presents the same issue rejected in Baker: whether a constitutional right to same-sex marriage exists. The Court agrees. Defendants further argue that no sufficient doctrinal developments have occurred to render this issue a substantial federal question. The Court disagrees."
Morris also took time to opine about how Montana’s same-sex families will benefit from this ruling:
"These families want for their children what all families in Montana want. They want to provide a safe and loving home in which their children have the chance to explore the world in which they live. They want their children to have the chance to discover their place in this world. And they want their children to have the chance to fulfill their highest dreams. These families, like all of us, want their children to adventure into the world without fear of violence; to achieve all that their talent and perseverance allows without fear of discrimination; and to love themselves so that they can love others. No family wants to deprive its precious children of the chance to marry the loves of their lives. Montana no longer can deprive Plaintiffs and other same-sex couples of the chance to marry their loves."
Read the full decision below: