October 12, 2014:
"For the reasons that follow, the Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. 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."The whole decision is here.
I would remind folks that back in 1998, Alaska Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski ruled that not allowing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Michalski ruled:
"It is the duty of the court to do more than merely assume that marriage is only, and must only be, what most are familiar with. In some parts of our nation mere acceptance of the familiar would have left segregation in place. In light of Brause and Dugan's challenge to the constitutionality of the relevant statutes, this court cannot defer to the legislature or familiar notions when addressing this issue." He ruled that "marriage, i.e., the recognition of one's choice of a life partner, is a fundamental right. The state must therefore have a compelling interest that supports its decision to refuse to recognize the exercise of this fundamental right by those who choose same-sex partners rather than opposite-sex partners."That ruling led Alaskans to pass a state constitutional amendment saying that marriage meant one man and one woman. It's that constitutional amendment that has now been found to violate the US constitution.
It's people like Judge Michalski and plaintiffs Jay Brause and Gene Dugan who helped clear the path for the ruling today (and the rest of the rulings in the US in the last couple of years).
Sixteen and a half years to get back to the same place. But that is the history of change in the world. Many people's lives would have been much easier - many people might still be alive - if people had accepted Michalski's ruling back then. And we all could have spent time on more productive activities. But that wasn't to be.
The ADN reports that the state vows to appeal the judge's decision. In anticipation of the (last) Friday court hearing, the judge's inevitable decision given the US Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit Court's recent rulings, and the high probability that the state would appeal the decision, I've been working on a post exploring when it makes sense to fight battles you know you're going to lose. I hope to get it up soon.