World & Nation

Supreme Court puts gay marriages on hold in Idaho; Nevada in limbo

Gay marriage
After the U.S. 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Idaho’s gay marriage ban, attorneys and plaintiffs in the case gathered Oct. 7 for a news conference in Boise.
(Otto Kitsinger / Associated Press)

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy issued an order Wednesday to temporarily halt gay marriages in Idaho, a day after a federal appeals court declared same-sex weddings legal there.

Initially, Kennedy’s order also put a stay on same-sex marriages in Nevada, which was covered by the appeals court decision. But Nevada officials had not sought any further delay in the marriages, and within hours, the high court revised the order and allowed gay marriages in Nevada to proceed. 

An independent group that opposes gay marriage continued to litigate the issue, however. Late Wednesday, the clerk in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, said no same-sex marriage licenses would be issued for now, the Associated Press reported. 

“I wish I knew a date,” Clark County Clerk Diana Alba said at a late-afternoon news conference.

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter filed an emergency request with Kennedy and the high court early Wednesday while the state seeks to appeal the U.S. 9th Circuit Court ruling that allowed gay marriage there. Otter called the 9th Circuit’s decision “an enormous federal intrusion on state power to define marriage,” and his lawyers insisted there was a “strong likelihood” the Supreme Court would disagree with the reasoning in the 9th Circuit’s opinion.

Shortly afterward, Kennedy, who handles emergency appeals from the West Coast, issued a brief order putting the appeals court decision on hold. He said lawyers for the plaintiffs in Idaho should file a response to the state’s appeal.

After the response is filed, Kennedy is likely then to refer the matter to the full court for a vote.

On Monday, the Supreme Court turned away similar appeals from five states whose bans on same-sex marriage were struck down as unconstitutional by federal appeals courts. The 9th Circuit’s ruling Tuesday followed the same pattern as those other appeals court decisions, although Judge Stephen Reinhardt went a bit further to say the courts should declare that discrimination based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional.

Twitter: @DavidGSavage