John M. Becker

Alaska Gets a Marriage Equality Lawsuit

Filed By John M. Becker | May 13, 2014 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Alaska, gay marriage, lawsuit, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

alaska-map.jpgYesterday, Alaska became the latest U.S. state with an active marriage equality lawsuit when a complaint was filed in federal court challenging the state's marriage discrimination amendment, which voters approved in 1998.

Alaska Commons reports:

Monday afternoon, Hamby et al. v. Parnell et al. was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, transmitted by attorneys Heather Gardner, Caitlin Shortell, and Allison Mendel. Summons will be served on the defendants, including Governor Sean Parnell, Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services William Streur, and others. The suit directly challenges the state prohibition on same-sex marriages (which voters amended the Alaska State Constitution to include back in 1998) asserting that the ban violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

According to a press release filed by the plaintiffs' attorneys, four of the plaintiff couples are married and seeking recognition for their legal marriages obtained out of state. The fifth plaintiff couple is unmarried but seeking the freedom to marry in Alaska.

Last month, in a case called Alaska v. Schmidt, Alaska's Supreme Court held that the state's denial of property tax exemptions to same-sex couples is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

In Hamby, five same-sex couples seek to join the precedent set in Schmidt with those set in 1967?s Loving v. Virginia (finding that the freedom to marry "is one of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival") and 2013?s U.S. v. Windsor -- which struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, restricting federal interpretation of "marriage" and "spouse" only to opposite-sex marriages.

Makes perfect sense to me. After all, if the state can't discriminate in tax law, how can it discriminate in other areas, like marriage law?

With Alaska's addition to the list of states with active marriage lawsuits, there are only three states remaining without one: North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana. An anticipated suit in South Dakota will soon narrow that list even further.

A copy of the complaint is after the jump, via Joe Jervis.

Alaska Marriage Equality Lawsuit by joenyc


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