A federal judge ruled Sunday that Alaska’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, paving the way for same-sex couples to begin marrying in the state for the first time.
The Alaskan Dispatch News reports
“The state quickly said it would appeal the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess, despite recent higher court rulings striking down similar bans around the country.”
“The court finds that Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same sex marriages lawfully entered in other states is unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Burgess wrote in an order in the case Hamby v. Parnell, released Sunday.
The Hamby suit was filed in May by five same-sex couples. It challenged the state’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman, approved by voters in 1998. Both parties in the Hamby case made oral arguments in the case on Friday.
In an email reported by the Alaskan Dispatch News, the state said it will appeal Burgess’ ruling.
“As Alaska’s governor, I have a duty to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution,” Gov. Sean Parnell said in a press release. “Although the district court today may have been bound by the recent Ninth Circuit panel opinion, the status of that opinion and the law in general in this area is in flux. I will defend our constitution.”
Parnell was referring to a ruling last week from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled to overturn similar marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. Same-sex marriage advocates said the 9th Circuit ruling would likely lead to the quick overturn of Alaska’s ban on gay marriage because the bans were similar and Alaska also falls under the jurisdiction of that court.
Even as the state vowed to appeal the decision, officials with the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics said they would begin accepting applications for same-sex marriage licenses at 8 a.m. on Monday.
“The license application begins the three-day waiting period before the license can be issued. All marriages in Alaska must have the marriage license issued before the ceremony is performed,” wrote Phillip Mitchell, head of the Bureau of Vital Statistics. “We expect our office will be busy tomorrow but we will make every effort to help customers as quickly as possible.”
Sunday’s ruling makes Alaska the 30th state to have full marriage equality.
Here’s a copy of the historic order: