ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Alaska will begin accepting marriage applications from same-sex couples Oct. 13 after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage Oct. 12 — the first such prohibition approved by voters in the U.S.
The state began accepting applications Oct. 13 morning, Phillip Mitchell, with the state Department of Vital Statistics, said. Alaska has a three-day waiting period between applications and marriage ceremonies.
Earlier in the week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from several states seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage. The Oct. 6 move effectively legalized gay marriage in about 30 states. But much of last week was marked by confusion as lower courts and states worked through when weddings could begin.
Then, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho on Oct. 7. On Oct. 9, West Virginia officials began issuing gay marriage licenses, and Kansas’ most populous county issued a marriage license Oct. 10 to a gay couple, believed to be the first such license in the state.
Sunday’s ruling in Alaska came in a lawsuit brought by five gay couples who asked the state in May to overturn a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998, the first such ban in the nation. The amendment defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
The lawsuit sought to bar enforcement of the ban or any state laws that refuse to recognize gay marriages legally performed in other states and countries or that prevent unmarried gay couples from marrying.
The judge heard arguments Oct. 10 and released his 25-page decision Oct. 12. Burgess said the laws violated gay couples’ due process and equal protection rights.
“Refusing the rights and responsibilities afforded by legal marriage sends the public a government-sponsored message that same-sex couples and their familial relationships do not warrant the status, benefits and dignity given to couples of the opposite sex,” Burgess wrote.
Gov. Sean Parnell said in a statement Oct. 12 that he would appeal in order to defend the Alaska Constitution.