You are on page 1of 6

Case 1:13-cv-00482-CWD Document 49 Filed 02/18/14 Page 1 of 6

Deborah A. Ferguson, ISB No. 5333 The Law Office of Deborah A. Ferguson, PLLC 202 N. 9th Street, Suite 401 C Boise, Idaho 83702 Tel.: (208) 484-2253 Craig Harrison Durham, ISB No. 6428 Durham Law Office, PLLC 405 S. 8th Street, Ste. 372 Boise, ID 83702 Tel.: (208) 345-5183 Shannon P. Minter Christopher F. Stoll National Center for Lesbian Rights 870 Market Street, Suite 370 San Francisco, California 94102 Tel.: (415) 392-6257 Attorneys for Plaintiffs UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF IDAHO SUSAN LATTA and TRACI EHLERS, LORI WATSEN and SHARENE WATSEN, SHELIA ROBERTSON and ANDREA ALTMAYER, AMBER BEIERLE and RACHAEL ROBERTSON, Plaintiffs, v. C.L. "BUTCH" OTTER, as Governor of the State of Idaho, in his official capacity, and CHRISTOPHER RICH, as Recorder of Ada County, Idaho, in his official capacity, Defendants.

Case No. 1:13-cv-00482-CWD


Case 1:13-cv-00482-CWD Document 49 Filed 02/18/14 Page 2 of 6

I, Traci Ehlers, hereby declare and state as follows: 1. I am one of the Plaintiffs in this action, along with my wife, Susan Latta,

and I have personal knowledge of the matters stated in this Declaration and could and would competently testify to these facts. 2. I am 50 years old and live in Idaho in the Treasure Valley, where I have

resided for 38 years. I co-own a small local business. 3. I was born in Torrance, California. My family moved when I was three to

Salt Lake City, Utah, near my paternal grandparents, where we lived until I was twelve. We moved to Idaho in 1976, and my father died the following year. My mom and stepfather raised me until I graduated from Meridian High School in Meridian, Idaho in 1982, and I moved out of my parents home at age 18. 4. In 1984, I started working at Western Trophy & Engraving, Inc., a small

business in Boise Idaho. When I began working there, my stepfathers long-time friend owned it. I learned the business under his guidance and was able to become a co-owner. My business supports the community by donating resources to and partnering on events and fundraisers with various non-profit organizations that support law enforcement, the military, womens causes, and health initiatives. 5. I have known since elementary school that I am a lesbian, but I didnt

fully come out to others until I was in my 20s. There was strong stigma attached to being gay or lesbian at the time, and I was fearful of how I would be treated. When I did finally have the courage to tell my family about my sexual orientation, they expressed acceptance of me. My mom was supportive and respectful of the women I dated.

Case 1:13-cv-00482-CWD Document 49 Filed 02/18/14 Page 3 of 6


My wife Sue and I met one another through a book club. We started dating

in 2003, approximately a year and a half after meeting. I volunteered to help her install one of her sculptures in Hailey, Idaho. We had a twelve-hour conversation that day, and it cemented our friendship. Eventually the friendship evolved into a relationship, and we built, and continue to build, on honest and open dialogue. Sue has often said that she believes that the key to a successful relationship is to find someone that you really like and then fall in love. And that is exactly what Sue and I did. 7. I asked Sue me to marry me in 2004. She said yes. The next year we

moved into my house while we renovated her house. We then sold my house and together purchased her house from her mother in 2006. 8. When Sue and I decided to get married, I officially came out to my

grandmother, who was 88 years old at the time and who has always been an important person in my life. She expressed love and acceptance of us, and she has treated Sue like one of her grandchildren. 9. In 2006, Sue and I had a meaningful, but not legally binding wedding

celebration in Boise with approximately 180 friends and family in attendance. We had amazing support on both sides of our families, with relatives attending from California, Nevada, Utah, Illinois, Oklahoma and Maryland to hear our vows and help us celebrate our lifelong commitment to each other. We had our ceremony because we wanted all the people in our lives that we love and that love us to recognize the commitment we had made to our relationship. The ceremony was very meaningful for us, but there was still something important missing because we were not legally considered a family.

Case 1:13-cv-00482-CWD Document 49 Filed 02/18/14 Page 4 of 6


In August 2008, Sue and I traveled to California and legally married each

other during the period in which California first allowed same-sex couples to marry. It was a first marriage for both of us. I married Sue because I want to spend the rest of my life with her, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. I wanted to make a legally binding commitment to her and to be sure that the government and others would respect our relationship and treat us as a committed couple. 11. Being married has enriched the quality of our relationship and made us

stronger as a family. It provides our relationship with greater stability and predictability, and gives it greater dignity and status. Nevertheless, Idahos refusal to recognize our marriage has been demeaning and painful to me and to Sue. 12. Before Sue and I started dating, I thought that I would not have children.

But then I fell in love with Sue, and Sue had two teenage children. Our first few years together were busy for us as a family. Sue and I attended all of football games, we went to school functions and parent/teacher meetings, and we knew and interacted with our childrens friends and their parents. Throughout these challenging and rewarding times, knowing that Sue and I had made a permanent commitment to one another through marriage helped strengthen and reinforce my commitment to the children, and I saw that it helped give the children more security, as well. 13. A. now has two children of her own, M. and L., who also live in Idaho and

whom Sue and I adore. I am convinced that grandkids are a key reason many people have children. I love M. and L. with all my heart. My grandmother has been a major influence in my life. I have learned so much from her and have such wonderful memories of times we spent together. I strive to make sure that our grandkids will be able to look

Case 1:13-cv-00482-CWD Document 49 Filed 02/18/14 Page 5 of 6

back and feel the same way. Nothing could cause me to love my grandchildren more, but it is painful knowing Idaho law does not recognize me as their grandparent and considers me to be a legal stranger to them. I do not want my grandchildren to grow up experiencing pain from the fact that the law does not fully recognize or respect their family. 14. It has been painful for Sue and me to have our marriage go unrecognized

by the state of Idaho and, until last summer, by the federal government. Sue and I were therefore thrilled when the Supreme Court ruled in June 2013 that the federal government must recognize same-sex couples marriages. 15. Idahos continued refusal to recognize our marriage, even after the federal

government has begun recognizing our marriage, creates complications and is demeaning to us. For example, Sue and I understand that while we must file our federal taxes this year as a married couple, which we are delighted to do, we must also file separate income tax returns in Idaho, under the fiction that we arent married, when, in fact, we are. Due to the added complexities the State of Idaho has imposed on us as same-sex couple, we will need professional tax assistance. In addition to the extra and unnecessary complexity and expense, it is demeaning to Sue and to me to continue to be required by law to sign an official government legal document that labels us each as single when that statement is untrue. 16. The property that Sue and I acquired together since our marriage in 2008

has not become community property as a result of our marriage, as it would have if our marriage were recognized in Idaho. In January 2014, we filed a quitclaim deed with the Ada County Recorder transferring the title to our home from joint property to marital

Case 1:13-cv-00482-CWD Document 49 Filed 02/18/14 Page 6 of 6

community property, with the right of survivorshipa form of property ownership that I understand is limited to legally married couples and that means that if one spouse were to die, the property would pass directly to the surviving spouse, without need of probate. Although the Ada County Recorder accepted our deed for filing, our understanding is that under current Idaho law the form of ownership specified in the deed transfer is not enforceable because Sue and I are a same-sex couple and Idaho refuses to recognize our marriage. 17. As we get older, we are more and more concerned with the ramifications

of our marriage not being legally recognized by Idaho. Many issues are implicated, including taxes, inheritance, social security benefits, hospital visitation rights, and medical decision-making. In so many ways, Idahos non-recognition of our marriage means we are not protected equally under the law. 18. On a personal level, it is painful that the state that we love, the place that

we have made our home, where we vote and pay taxes, where we have our businesses, where we participate, and volunteer, and donate, treats us as second-class citizens. It sees our family as less important than other families and somehow undeserving of equal protection under the law. I sign this Declaration under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States. DATED the 13th day of February 2014.

___/s/____________ Traci Ehlers