Same-sex marriage licenses available today in Bonner County

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SANDPOINT - People can obtain same-sex marriage licenses in Bonner County today, starting at 9 a.m.

Clerk Ann Dutson-Sater said the county has received about a dozen inquiries from people interested in obtaining such a license as the issue bounced around in federal court last week.

"We've gotten quite a few," Dutson-Sater said on Tuesday.

A state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Idaho was adopted in 2006, prompting four lesbian couples to file suit in U.S. District Court. The plaintiffs argued the prohibition ran afoul of the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

A federal court struck down the gay marriage ban earlier this year and the state sought relief in the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals, but it upheld the lower court's ruling last Tuesday.

However, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy immediately granted an emergency stay. The high court ruled on Friday that same-sex marriages in Idaho could proceed.

Gov. Butch Otter announced Tuesday that he would not appeal the 9th Circuit's latest ruling and that the state did everything it could to defend traditional marriage in Idaho, according to The Associated Press.

On Monday, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden dropped his opposition to the stay, but noted that his office changed its stance on gay marriage and was still considering other options, the Associated Press reported.

Clerks statewide participated in an online seminar with Wasden's office last week to go over the practical implications if same-sex unions were ultimately allowed.

Dutson-Sater said the county worked with its software consultant to modify recording software to provide for more options on the licenses other than just a bride and a groom.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will ultimately approve a statewide licensing format, Dutson-Sater said.

"There will be a final approval on that (by the state). But, for the moment, we're going with whatever we have available to us," she said.

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