- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Same-sex couples planning to marry and supporters hoping to help them celebrate at courthouses across Idaho saw their plans put on hold Thursday by a federal appeals court.

But some Boise residents said they would gather anyway, trading weddings for rallies.

Idaho’s gay marriage ban was overturned Tuesday when U.S. District Judge Candy Dale said the law unconstitutionally denied gay and lesbian residents their fundamental right to marry. Dale said Idaho must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting Friday morning.

But Thursday afternoon, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay while it considers whether a longer stay is needed. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden both had asked the court to place Dale’s ruling on hold while they appeal.

Christopher Stoll, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said the organization was pleased that the 9th Circuit will carefully consider their arguments that no stay is warranted.

The group helped represent the four Idaho couples who brought the lawsuit that led to Dale’s ruling.

“We trust the court will consider the matter promptly,” Stoll said in a prepared statement. “We hope the appeals court will allow the district court’s order to take effect as soon as possible so that all Idaho families can enjoy the important protections that marriage provides.”

Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples and their supporters were planning to gather Friday at the Ada County Courthouse for weddings and celebration.

Several local businesses and supporters had promised to participate by offering free flowers, wedding photography, coffee and discounted pastries to couples getting married. Some residents who are ordained to perform weddings also offered their services.

Event organizer Emily Walton said Thursday that many of the people who were hoping to celebrate at the courthouse in the morning are still planning to show up. But she said the “party” will take on a different tone.

“Many people didn’t think this court decision would be made in Idaho for another 10 years. So I think this is a huge surprise it’s this close to being a possibility,” Walton said. “This will eventually happen. … We’re this much closer.”

Will Heatter said his floral shop, Flowers at Will, was going to give free bouquets or boutonnieres to the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license. He also wanted to be at the courthouse with his partner to “watch love happen.”

Though he knew a stay was a possibility, Heatter said he was surprised by the news.

“If tomorrow’s not the day, then tomorrow’s not the day - but we’re not giving up the fight,” said Heatter, who still plans to attend the gathering. “In my heart, I know we’re one step closer.”

Meanwhile, at least one Idaho business announced it would rather close than offer services to gay couples. Coeur d’Alene’s Hitching Post, a popular wedding chapel, told the Spokesman-Review that it would not perform marriages for same-sex couples, even if that meant closing its doors after being open for 95 years.

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