It seems like the march toward marriage equality is making news every day. Just yesterday, May 12, Alaska became the latest state to take up the issue when a lawsuit was filed in federal court challenging the state constitution’s ban on same-sex marriage, which dates back to 1998.
The plaintiffs’ intent is plainly stated:
[R]estore to the Alaska Constitution the principles of due process, fairness, and equality, and to restore and affirm the civil liberties, individual rights, and personal dignities otherwise guaranteed by the Alaska Constitution to each and all of its citizens.
But it’s their personal stories that really drive the message home:
Matthew Hamby and Christopher Shelden: They have experienced difficulties obtaining benefits, such as health insurance, extended by the State of Alaska to other married couples as a routine matter.
Susan Tow and Christina Laborde: The same-sex marriage ban complicates the process by which Christine could adopt the children.
Stephanie Pearson and Courtney Lamb: The couple lives in Anchorage and wishes to marry in Alaska because both feel that Alaska is their home and that they should be able to marry in their home state.
Sean Egan and David Robinson: Despite the fact that they were lawfully married in New York nearly three years ago and that even the United States Armed Forces now recognize them as married, extending to Sean the benefits available to military spouses, the State of Alaska does not recognize their marriage, and in the eyes of the State, they are legal strangers, their marriage void under state law.
Tracey Wiese and Katrina Cortez: Tracey moved to Alaska sixteen years ago and Katrina has lived in Alaska her entire life. Tracey works for Providence Medical Center and is a business owner. Katrina is a [self-employed] business owner. The couple has a three year old daughter together.
Yesterday’s filing is great news for these couples and countless other Alaskans wishing to bring marriage equality to their state, but on this issue Alaska is not The Last Frontier – three states remain with unchallenged marriage bans.
17 states and DC have legalized marriage for same-sex couples.
30 states without marriage equality have lawsuits pending.
3 states – Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota – have unchallenged bans, though a South Dakota challenge is expected soon.