BOISE, Idaho — Idaho's Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he's disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide on Friday after leading an unsuccessful fight to protect the state's same-sex marriage ban. Gay rights supporters across the Gem State, however, celebrated the court's long-awaited decision.
In a 5-4 ruling, the nation's highest court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States, including the 14 states that had been enforcing bans.
Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden have argued in court filings against legalizing gay marriage that the decision is a states' rights issue.
"I have maintained from the very beginning that it should be the prerogative of the states —not the courts — to determine whether same-sex marriage is consistent with the values, character, and moral fabric of that particular state," the Republican governor said in a statement. "That is why it was especially troubling that the Court treated the 10th Amendment as a footnote, instead of the guiding principle our founding fathers intended."
Same-sex couples have been able to marry in Republican-dominated Idaho ever since Oct. 15, after the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban.
Previously, Idaho had one of the strictest gay-marriage bans in the nation because of a 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment declaring that the only relationship the state would recognize is between a man and a woman. That included excluding domestic partnerships and civil unions.
For gay rights activists, Friday's decision was a relief that they no longer faced a pending threat that their Idaho same-sex marriage license would someday be voided.
"Today, our highest court affirmed what we already knew to be true: that love, commitment and responsibility in marriage between two people is universal and no state law should abridge this fundamental right of two people to marry," said Leo Morales, acting executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho. "Marriage is a lifelong commitment to take care of each other in good times and bad, for better or worse."
Supporters of gay rights plan to celebrate the court's ruling in Boise in front of the state Capitol on Friday evening.
Idaho's Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson also expressed disappointment in the court's decision, but he added that he would respect the court's decision. Congress has a number of other pressing issues that should be the current primary focus for lawmakers, he said.