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In Vegas, let the wedding boom begin: Same-sex weddings are back on

In Vegas, let the wedding boom begin: Same-sex weddings are back on
Sherwood Howard, left, embraces Nevada State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson as they get married Thursday outside the Marriage License Bureau in Las Vegas. They were the first same-sex couple to marry in Las Vegas. (John Locher / Associated Press)

Finally, the wedding party can begin in Las Vegas. On Thursday afternoon, the way was cleared for same-sex marriages in Nevada, after a couple of days of legal wrangling had put the unions on ice.

An order signed late Thursday afternoon by U.S. District Court Judge James C. Mahan in Las Vegas said, in part, "The court hereby permanently enjoins the state of Nevada, its political subdivisions, its officers, employees, and agents from enforcing any constitutional provision, statute, regulation, or policy preventing otherwise-qualified same-sex couples from marrying, or denying recognition to marriages celebrated in other jurisdictions which, if the spouses were not of the same sex, would be valid under the laws of the state."

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At 5:05 p.m., Clark County, Nev., Clerk Dianne Alba said, "Let's go ahead and do this."

Seconds later two same-sex couples, who, according to Alba, had received "line passes" (big-time gamblers get a line pass so they don't have to stand in line) came forward and were handed their marriage licenses.

Jim McGinnis, owner of Chapelle de l'Amour wedding chapel in Las Vegas, had promised 24 hours of free weddings for same-sex couples. That plan had been put on hold.

On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down bans on gay matrimony in Nevada and Idaho. Preparations for issuance of licenses began in Clark County.

But early Wednesday Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy granted a temporary stay of the appellate court's ruling after an emergency appeal from state officials in Idaho.

Because Nevada had not issued an objection, the Supreme Court revised its stay to include only Idaho.

One more legal challenge again delayed full implementation.

"Nobody is more frustrated than I am," Alba told the Associated Press earlier in the day. "It really is truly out of our hands. I'm kind of paralyzed."

No longer. Las Vegas proclaims itself the wedding capital of the world, and the legal action probably will only enhance its status.

In 2013, Clark County, home to Las Vegas, issued more than 80,000 marriage licenses, which it says is the most of any county in the nation.

"We're ready to rock," said McGinnis, whose chapel is just a block from the courthouse. "They're expecting 600 people down here at the courthouse" now that licenses are being issued, he said.

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