>> Federal Judge Strikes Down Alaska Gay Marriage Ban
L’interdiction des mariages homosexuels en vigueur depuis 16 ans en Alaska a été déclaré dimanche contraire à la constitution par la justice fédérale.
Dans son arrêt, le juge Timothy Burgess, d’ailleurs nominé par Georges W. Bush, estime qu’en interdisant aux couples homosexuels « les avantages et la dignité du mariage », l’Etat de l’Alaska se rend coupable de discrimination à leur égard.
Son arrêt interdit aussi aux autorités locales de refuser de reconnaître les mariages prononcés dans d’autres Etats des Etats-Unis où ils sont légaux.
Le gouverneur républicain Sean Parnell a réagi en annonçant qu’il ferait appel de ce jugement. « En tant que gouverneur de l’Alaska, j’ai le devoir de défendre et de faire respecter la loi et la constitution de l’Alaska », a-t-il dit.
Un référendum a fait inscrire en 1998 l’interdiction du mariage homosexuel dans la constitution locale.
Le juge Burgess avait été saisi en mai par cinq couples, dont quatre mariés dans d’autres Etats souhaitaient faire reconnaître leur statut marital par l’Alaska. Le cinquième souhaite se marier en Alaska.
Sarah Palin, la Boutin américaine, ex-gouverneur de l’Etat, en a fait un malaise.
>> A federal judge on Sunday struck down Alaska’s first-in-the-nation ban on gay marriages, the latest court decision in a busy week for the issue.
The state of Alaska will begin accepting those applications first thing Monday morning, Phillip Mitchell, with the state Department of Vital Statistics, told The Associated Press in an email. Alaska has a three-day waiting period between between applications and marriage ceremonies.
The late Sunday afternoon decision caught many people off guard. No rallies were immediately planned, but some plaintiffs celebrated over drinks at an Anchorage bar.
Matthew Hamby, who along with his husband Christopher Shelden was one of five couples to sue, was « just having drinks with friends, enjoying it. »
He said he was « elated » U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess sided with them, and he planned to among the first in line to apply for a license Monday.
« This is just an amazing day for Alaska. We’re just so fortunate that so many have fought for equality for so long — I mean, decades, » said Susan Tow, who along with her wife, Chris Laborde, were among couples who sought to overturn Alaska’s ban.
Earlier in the week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from several states that were seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage.
The move on Oct. 6 means that gay marriage is now effectively legal in about 30 states. But much of last week was marked by confusion as lower courts and states worked through when weddings can begin.
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in the West overturned marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho. On Thursday, West Virginia officials began issuing gay marriage licenses, and Kansas’ most populous county issued a marriage license Friday to a gay couple, believed to be the first such license in the state.
Sunday’s ruling in Alaska came in a lawsuit brought by five gay couples who had asked the state in May to overturn a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998. The amendment defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
The lawsuit sought to bar enforcement of Alaska’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. It also called for barring enforcement of any state laws that refuse to recognize gay marriages legally performed in other states or countries or that prevent unmarried gay couples from marrying.
Burgess heard arguments Friday afternoon and promised a quick decision. He released his 25-page decision Sunday afternoon.
« Refusing the rights and responsibilities afforded by legal marriage sends the public a government-sponsored message that same-sex couples and their familial relationships do not warrant the status, benefits and dignity given to couples of the opposite sex, » Burgess wrote.
« This Court finds that Alaska’s same-sex marriage laws violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because no state interest provides ‘excessively persuasive justification’ for the significant infringement of rights that they inflicted upon homosexual individuals, » he wrote.
Gov. Sean Parnell said in a statement Sunday he was appealing to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution.
« Although the district court today may have been bound by the recent 9th Circuit panel opinion, the status of that opinion and the law in general in this area is in flux, » he said.
State lawyers were reviewing Burgess decision and working on the next steps to appeal.