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Judge strikes down Idaho's same-sex marriage ban

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOISE, Idaho -- Gay and lesbian couples in Idaho could start getting married as soon as Friday after a judge ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge Candy Dale wrote in her decision Tuesday evening that Idaho's laws barring same-sex marriage unconstitutionally deny gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry.

Dale said the state must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting at 9 a.m. Friday.

However, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter already has said he intends to appeal the case, meaning an appellate court could still put the weddings on hold.

Dale said marriage works a fundamental change on the lives of all who experience it, and it holds immense personal and spiritual significance.

"This case asks a basic and enduring question about the essence of American government: Whether the will of the majority, based as it often is on sincere beliefs and democratic consensus, may trump the rights of a minority," the judge wrote.

Idaho's laws wrongly stigmatize gay and lesbian couples and relegate their families to second-class status without sufficient reason, she said.

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