Alaska’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Challenged

Anchorage Daily News/Getty Images The United For Marriage Rally drew over 100 people outside the Federal Building in Anchorage, Alaska, Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Five same-sex couples have filed a lawsuit to overturn the state's 1998 constitutional amendment that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, but also aim to force the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries

Five same-sex couples filed a lawsuit Monday that challenges Alaska’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional.

The Alaskan lawsuit, filed on behalf of four couples married outside of the state and one unmarried couple, not only wants to overturn Alaska’s 1998 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but also to force the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries.

Although most states across the country have seen similar legal challenges, attorney Caitlin Shortell, one of three lawyers on the Hamby v. Parnell lawsuit, says this is the first legal challenge in Alaska to legalize gay marriage. Shortell said that the lawsuit is both “necessary and important.”

After a South Dakota lawsuit that was announced last week is filed, Montana and North Dakota will be the only two states in the union yet to challenge prohibitions on gay marriage.

Last month, the Alaskan Supreme Court ruled to increase rights of same sex couples, including official entitlement to same property tax exemptions. In February, state senator Hollis French proposed measures to strip away the state’s gay marriage ban, which he declared a “blot on our state constitution,” although it didn’t gain traction.

Lawyers say that they expect the Republican-controlled state legislature to defend the ban.

[Anchorage Daily News]

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