U.S. Supreme Court Puts Temporary Hold On Same Sex Marriages In Idaho

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The U.S. Supreme Court has put a temporary hold on same-sex marriage moving forward in Idaho and Nevada.

A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down current bans in those two states, and later ordered its ruling to go into effect immediately. Idaho officials then asked the high court to intervene on an emergency basis and block enforcement of that lower court mandate.

Within an hour of receiving the state’s application Wednesday morning, Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a brief order, and gave same-sex couples opposing the ban until Thursday to file a written response.

Presumably, the high court will then issue a subsequent order on whether gay and lesbian couples in Idaho can get married in the near future.

Further appeals from Idaho in coming weeks could tie up the issue in the high court for months.

“I’m pleased that Justice Kennedy has given us the opportunity to make our case in a way that helps avoid the confusion some other states have faced,” said Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in a statement. “I intend to be faithful to my oath of office and keep working to protect the Idaho Constitution and the mandate of Idaho voters in support of traditional marriage.”

The case is the latest in a series of rapidly evolving legal events this week on the controversial social issue.

In a surprise move Monday, the justices refused to get involved now in the constitutional debate over same-sex marriage. That decision allowed same-sex couples to wed legally in five states — Virginia, Utah, Nevada, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Utah is among the states where marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples for a brief period before stays were issued by the courts earlier this year, leaving a good deal of uncertainty over whether those marriages were valid.

A three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals had concluded the bans in Idaho and Nevada violated the equal protection rights of homosexuals to legally marry.

“The lessons of our constitutional history are clear: inclusion strengthens, rather than weakens, our most important institutions,” said the judges. “When same-sex couples are married, just as when opposite sex couples are married, they serve as models of loving commitment to all.”

Following what the Supreme Court did a day earlier, at least 32 states and perhaps three more could allow same-sex marriage in coming weeks, an increase of at least 13 states since the beginning of the month. Colorado and Utah announced Tuesday it would order county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The decisions affecting Idaho and Nevada become the fourth such federal appeals court to strike down voter-approved bans since June.

A Nevada state senator popped the question after Nevada’s gay marriage ban fell .

He expected him to say yes. The unmarried couple had been together for about 6 ½ years, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that a state senator from Nevada was able to ask his partner to legally marry him.

After a ruling from an appeals court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson was on stage in what was to be a meeting to explore Nevada’s next steps in pushing for legalization of marriage for gays and lesbians.

“I was telling my story and it just came out. I proposed to him on stage in front of everyone,” said Atkinson.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in California concluded that bans in Nevada and Idaho violated the equal protection rights of same-sex couples to legally marry.

As the dominoes continue to fall after the Supreme Court Monday decided to let stand rulings striking down bans in five states and affecting similar laws in six others, Nevada joined a cavalcade of states whose same-sex marriage bans have been tossed out.

In the coming weeks, 32 states could allow same-sex marriage, an increase of 13 states since the beginning of the month.

“The governor has told the attorney general to begin giving out marriage licenses to same-sex couples (Wednesday) at 2 p.m.,” said Atkinson.

Atkinson expected Sherwood Howard, his partner, to say yes to the proposal, but there was crying, and not everyone in the crowd could hear Howard’s answer.

“He said yes,” said Atkinson.

The Democratic state senator said that the meeting “turned into a celebration,” and that “I come from a big supportive family. I have 10 siblings and an 18-year-old daughter, and they all are very happy for us.”

The two haven’t set a date. They could be Nevada’s first same-sex married couple if they decide to wed Wednesday.

“We have been asked to be Nevada’s first same sex-couple to get married tomorrow, but we haven’t decided yet. I’m going home to talk about it right now actually,” he said.

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