Speed Reads

lifting the ban

Federal judge strikes down gay marriage ban in Alaska

Late Sunday afternoon, a federal judge struck down Alaska's ban on gay marriages.

"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," U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess wrote in his decision.

Burgess further found that Alaska's same-sex marriage laws "violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment."

Alaska will start accepting applications for same-sex marriages on Monday, a state official tells The Associated Press. There is a waiting period of three days between applications and marriage ceremonies in Alaska.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit five gay couples filed in May, seeking to overturn the state's constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998 that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. Susan Tow, who married her wife, Christine Laborde, last year in Maryland and is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, was thrilled with Sunday's news. "This is just an amazing day for Alaska," she told AP. "We're just so fortunate that so many have fought for equality for so long — I mean, decades."

Sharon Leighow, a spokeswoman for Gov. Sean Parnell (R), told AP the state will appeal the ruling.