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Idaho lawmaker questions purpose of $1 million transferred to constitutional defense fund

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Idaho state sealA bit of a storm is brewing in Idaho over a million dollars in the state budget that’s been transferred into a fund designated for use to defend the state constitution, with one legislator concerned that the money could be used to defend the state’s marriage equality ban in court.  KTVB reports:

Rep. Shirley Ringo stands by her view that the money could be used to better serve Idahoans.

“It was hard for me to see to put away a million dollars to deal with decisions we probably shouldn’t have made in the first place,” said Rep. Ringo.

She questions the $1 million recently transferred to the constitutional defense fund, saying it could be used in a legal battle over’s Idaho law banning same sex marriage.

Ringo says it’s a law that shouldn’t have passed in the first place.

“In general I feel cranky about our nature to play it fast and loose in terms of passing laws we know will have some sort of challenge simply because it’s something some people feel strongly about,” said Ringo.

Rep. Maxine Bell, chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, says the funds could be used to defend the marriage ban, but that there was no specific intention to earmark the extra $1 million for that purpose.  “When we were given this budget January 7th, there [w]as no designation, and there has not been any since,” Ball told KTVB.

Just last week, the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed a motion for summary judgment in its constitutional challenge of Idaho’s marriage equality ban.  As Scottie pointed out in his report on the filing, NCLR’s case is on particularly strong ground due to a recent ruling of the Ninth Circuit:

The accompanying memo in support of a ruling in their favor points out that Idaho falls within the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ jurisdiction. This likely means that the district court judge has to apply a heightened level of judicial scrutiny, because the Ninth Circuit recently addressed that issue in SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Laboratories.

Because of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, there is a possibility that Idaho’s attorney general will follow the lead of Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who earlier this month announced that she would no longer defend her state’s marriage band because of the SmithKline case.

Check out a KTVB segment on the issue below.

For more information on Latta v. Otter from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.


  • 1. Chris M.  |  February 28, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Does anyone know if the ruling in SmithKline is final, or are they still mulling an appeal to SCOTUS?

  • 2. Ragavendran  |  February 28, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    As of now, they are still within their 90-day window to appeal to SCOTUS. They haven't yet done so. Even if they do, chances are slim that SCOTUS will touch this case, unless it wants to overturn the 9th (seems unlikely that the Windsor majority would want to do that). If it affirms the 9th, then all hell (heaven for us) breaks loose. It has implications beyond nationwide marriage equality – it will also, effectively, ban sexual orientation based discrimination nationwide.

  • 3. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 28, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Somehow, Rep. Bell's reaction sounds like the cries of indignation about Arizona SB 1062 having anything to do with gay people. They were shocked, shocked that anyone could think that!

  • 4. Rick O.  |  March 1, 2014 at 7:08 am

    They could have saved time by just making out a check to "Monte Stewart".

  • 5. Marriage Equality Round-U&hellip  |  March 1, 2014 at 7:18 am

    […] USA, Idaho: A state lawmaker is questioning why the state is setting aside $1 million to defend its marriage equality ban. full story […]

  • 6. Website  |  March 17, 2014 at 12:23 am

    I shall display this content to all my friends and family.

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