Alaska News

Alaska same-sex marriage case will go forward despite 9th Circuit ruling

Oral arguments will go forward in a suit challenging Alaska's same-sex marriage ban after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday to overturn similar bans in two other states.

In an order from U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess issued Wednesday, both parties in Hamby v. Parnell will have 30 minutes each to present their case as to why Alaska's same-sex marriage ban should be upheld or overturned. Burgess noted in his order that parties should be prepared to address the current status and implications of the 9th Circuit ruling that found similar same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional.

The Hamby suit, filed in May by five Alaska couples, challenges the state's constitutional ban limiting marriage to one man and one woman. Voters approved the ban in 1998.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over Alaska, found that similar bans in Idaho and Nevada deny due process and equal protection rights afforded under the U.S. Constitution. Many of the arguments presented in the Hamby case are addressed in the decision.

The Alaska Department of Law did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday. On Tuesday the department met to discuss the implications of the 9th Circuit ruling. Advocates for same-sex marriage say the ruling will likely overturn Alaska's marriage ban in the near future.

Oral arguments are set for 1 p.m. Friday at the Anchorage Federal Courthouse. A rally is planned following conclusion of the arguments.

Suzanna Caldwell

Suzanna Caldwell is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in 2017.