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.”
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.