[Vision2020] Same-sex marriage licenses ruled invalid

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Thu Feb 12 16:40:50 PST 2015

Courtesy of today's (February 12, 2015) Lewiston Tribune.

Same-sex marriage licenses ruled invalid
Six Latah County couples who had their marriage licenses issued in October now told they are no good
MOSCOW - Four months after being issued same-sex marriage licenses, six Latah County couples are being told their certificates are invalid.
Latah County Clerk-Auditor Henrianne K. Westberg said Wednesday the county was notified that the Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics would not be filing six same-sex marriage licenses and certificates issued in October. The county issued the licenses Oct. 10 following a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Westberg, who took office Jan. 12, said the bureau sent a letter to Latah County Prosecutor William Thompson Jr. Jan. 27 saying the licenses and certificates were issued before an implemented stay had been lifted. The letter indicates licenses were not to be issued until Oct. 15.
Former Latah County Clerk-Auditor Susan Petersen and Thompson reviewed the ruling prior to issuing the licenses and determined it was clear the decision was effective immediately, Westberg said. She called each of the six couples Tuesday to notify them of the situation and mailed them copies of the letter, as well as a letter of explanation from Thompson.
"This is an emotional topic, and it was hard to have to make that call," Westberg said.
The state's decision has prompted several questions - and some frustration - from some of the couples who received the licenses.
Jeff Dodge said he's uncertain what it actually means for the bureau to not file the license he and his husband, Mark McLaughlin, turned in to the county four days after it was issued. He is also concerned with what kind of financial implications they may face.
Dodge, an employee at the University of Idaho, updated his tax status from single to married following their October nuptials. They have also already filed their taxes for 2014 with the understanding they were legally married. He said it's unclear to him if they will have to refile their taxes as single individuals, which could result in them owing the government money.
"Those questions are still unanswered and that's a bit unsettling," he said.
It is also disappointing that it has taken this long for the issue to be brought to the couples' attention, Dodge said. There were questions when the licenses were being issued about if it would be a problem.
"I feel like I'm just still trying to understand," said Dodge, who hadn't received or reviewed a copy of the letter as of Wednesday afternoon.
Dodge said he thinks some kind of resolution needs to be found that does not hurt those couples issued licenses. He and McLaughlin are interested in seeing if it's possible to have the date on the license and certificate amended as long as it remains in 2014.
Westberg said Wednesday afternoon she had a call into the bureau chief to see what can be done to enable the licenses to be filed and ask why it took so long for the county to be notified. She is also trying to see if it will be possible to have the dates on the licenses amended to when the bureau believes the marriages were legal.
"I just wish we'd known sooner, that's my upset with (the bureau's decision)," she said.
The county has also offered to reissue the licenses free of charge to the six couples, and Magistrate John C. Judge is available to officiate ceremonies.
Dodge said he thought simply getting a new license would confirm the previous one as invalid.
"That does not feel like the correct solution," he said.
Moscow resident Rebecca Rod said she and her wife, Theresa Beaver - who have previously filed for marriage licenses in states where same-sex marriage is legal - would get married again in Idaho if needed, but the situation is irritating and disheartening. She was still waiting to receive and read the letter as well.
"We'll do it again," she said. "Theresa and I, we're in it for the long haul."
But Rod said she understands it's not that simple for some couples that have made legal changes with the understanding they were married. She questions what the bureau's decision means for couples like Dodge and McLaughlin.
"You're just playing with people's lives - it's goofy," Rod said. "It's going to happen. I suppose the (U.S.) Supreme Court is going to settle it all and that's what needs to happen."

Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

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