Sunday afternoon, something many Alaskans never thought they would see in their lifetimes happened. After oral arguments were heard Friday on the lawsuit challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess issued a decision finding the constitutional ban in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Burgess enjoined Alaska from enforcing the ban, meaning that Monday morning should permit same-sex couples to apply for a marriage license (a process that takes three days).
Governor Parnell announced that he would appeal the U.S. District Court’s ruling, but the likelihood of the Ninth Circuit to review that appeal is considered unlikely. A three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada last week and would likely affirm Burgess’s decision under existing precedent.
The ruling was expected. The timeliness caught everyone by surprise. Many surmised that Monday would offer the earliest time frame Alaskans might see a ruling handed down. Supporters of marriage equality in Anchorage headed down to Mad Myrna’s, a gay bar in the heart of downtown, to celebrate.
I followed suit, alongside a handful of Alaska Commons contributors and board members — one of whom today saw his right to marry his longtime partner recognized.
To him, and to all LGBT Alaskans finally afforded that fundamental human right on this incredible and historic day, I offer my heartfelt congratulations.
To learn more about the families behind today’s landmark ruling, check out Alaska Commons’ “Faces of Equality” Series, where four of the five families were gracious enough to sit down with me.