Alaska officials react to DOMA strikedown

The Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court Wednesday. The court’s 5-4 decision to rule that a federal ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional is receiving mixed reactions among Alaska politicians.

Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, said in an interview that she thought the decision was a good step toward equality in America. Kerttula said the decision might change the attitudes of some political leaders in the state.

“In Alaska we have more robust individual protections,” Kerttula said. “If the federal court is taking this stand, what does that mean for Alaska?”

Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau, echoed Kerttula’s sentiment.

“The people are leading on this issue, and the courts are catching up,” Egan said in an e-mail. “There should be no second class citizens in the U.S. It’s a great day for equality of all people under federal law.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski, who recently became the third GOP senator to publicly support marriage equality, said in a statement today that she welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision.

“The federal government should empower households, respect the decisions of states and otherwise get out of the way,” the statement read. “This ruling represents victories for states’ rights and equal treatment under the law.”

Democratic Senator Mark Begich also released a statement expressing support for the decision by calling it a “victory for individual rights.”

“I believe same sex couples should be able to marry and have the same rights, benefits, privileges and responsibilities as any other married couple,” the statement read. “While we still have a long way to go, today, the Supreme Court confirmed that the government needs to step aside, leave the decision to states and churches, and stay out of our private lives and daily business.”

Republican Congressman Don Young released a statement that said he was disappointed with the court’s decision but that it was important that the issue was left for individual states to decide.

“As someone who believes in a limited federal government,” the statement read, “I look forward to seeing how each state addresses the marriage question.”

Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at jennifer.canfield@juneauempire.com.

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