Idaho gay couples disappointed but optimistic

A large crowd gathers in Downtown Boise even though its historic day will have to wait.

sberg@idahostatesman.comMay 16, 2014 

— A little before 9 a.m. Friday, newlyweds Marty Lindgren and Sandra Watts-Lindgren quietly snapped a couple of selfies just outside the Ada County Courthouse entrance.

Seven stairs below them, in the courtyard, people were starting to gather for what was originally planned as a celebration of the first same-sex marriages in Idaho. Licensed officiants had planned to conduct ceremonies outside the courthouse. Local companies donated cake and coffee.

Boise resident Emily Walton organized the event shortly after U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled Tuesday that Idaho's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

But on Thursday afternoon, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals put a stay on Dale's ruling while the court considers the state of Idaho's appeal. After she heard about the 9th Circuit decision, Walton figured that people would lose enthusiasm for the event, which she called "a protest with cake."

Between 150 and 200 people showed up Friday. A public address system played jazz and pop tunes throughout the morning. The DJ even mixed in part of the priest's monologue before the wedding in the movie "The Princess Bride."

THE OPPOSITION

Off to the side, a small group held signs offering support for Gov. Butch Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who appealed Dale's ruling. Glen Olsen and James Barclay, both of Meridian, said it was wrong for a single judge to overturn a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

Olsen doesn't buy the argument that allowing voters to decide who may marry is "tyranny of the majority."

"If the state votes to do anything, that's supposedly the tyranny of the majority," he said. "A lot of things that are voted on, I'm unhappy with. They have their opinions; I have mine. And we peaceably get along. That's what I love about this state."

Barclay pointed out that some Americans believe they should be allowed to practice polygamy, but that's against the law.

"In this case, we feel that the judge overstepped the voice of the people, and so our voice is no longer being heard or recognized," he said.

SOLIDARITY, REALITY

The Lindgrens found out about the 9th Circuit order late Thursday. The Meridian couple thought about postponing their wedding in protest. They also worried that being a heterosexual couple getting married in front of same-sex couples would look like taunting.

But Marty Lindgren had already taken the day off, so they decided to go through with their plan. After they left, the crowd for Walton's event gathered in earnest - upbeat, though without the joy Walton had hoped to see.

One cake read, "Congratulations everyone! We did it!" People joked that someone should have inserted "almost" in that sentence.

"I'm disappointed," said City Council President Maryanne Jordan, who helped write a 2012 law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in Boise. "We were supposed to be at City Hall right now, doing weddings."

Jordan said two couples were preparing to have weddings officiated by Mayor Dave Bieter.

She said she's encouraged that Idaho is close to recognizing same-sex marriages, and she hopes the U.S. Supreme Court soon will settle the issue for good.

"If we had approached civil rights issues in the 1960s with a states' rights approach, where would we be?" she said.

THE PASTRY ECONOMY

Bob McFadden, owner of A Cupcake Paradise, was one of the people at Friday's get-together. McFadden said his company would make more money selling cake to newlyweds if gay marriage were legal.

"The governor talks about wanting to boost small business ... and keep everything local," McFadden said. "Unfortunately, we can't do that when we're hindered by him."

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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