A federal judge in Alaska late Sunday ruled that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.


U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess ruled that the ban violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.

Burgess ordered state officials to stop enforcing the ban and refusing to recognize same-sex marriage entered in other states.

Burgess heard oral arguments last Friday in case, which was brought by five same-sex couples living in the state. Four couples were married in other states, and one couple wanted to get married in Alaska.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias said in an email to The Hill that Burgess’s opinion tracked with those of other courts, which found violations of equal protection and due process.

He said Alaska officials may appeal, but added that that effort would likely prove fruitless, given last week’s ruling on Idaho and Nevada bans, unless the bans in those states can be distinguished from Alaska’s.

A panel of judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last Tuesday overturned bans on gay marriages in Idaho and Nevada, but Idaho wants the case to be heard again by the entire court.

The Supreme Court last Monday declined to revisit same-sex marriage, announcing that it would not take up any of seven cases on the issue that were pending before the court.

The decision shocked court watchers, who expected the justices to tackle the hot-button issue this fall.

By declining to take the cases involving Indiana, Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, the court effectively allowed lower court rulings against state bans on gay marriage to stand.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a July interview that the court would not duck the issue in the future.

“I think the court will not do what they did in the old days when they continually ducked the issue of miscegenation,” she said. “If a case is properly before the court, they will take it.”

—This report was updated at 8:22 p.m.