- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Same-sex weddings in Idaho were blocked Wednesday, while gay rights activists scrambled to unlock the doors for gay marriage in at least three more states.

In Nevada and Idaho, clerks were ready to issue marriage licenses to gay couples Wednesday morning, but their plans were put on hold by Supreme CourtJustice Anthony M. Kennedy, who issued a temporary stay in response to an emergency request by Idaho officials.

Justice Kennedy directed lawyers for the gay plaintiffs in Idaho to file their response to the stay by 5 p.m. Thursday.

He later clarified that his order staying enforcement did not apply to Nevada; gay marriages were set to begin there as soon as possible.

The Idaho and Nevada marriage cases came into play Tuesday afternoon when a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down their state laws that said the states would only recognize marriages of one man and one woman.

The 9th Circuit did not stay its ruling, paving the way for gay marriages to commence.

However, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, the state of Idaho and Ada County Recorder Christopher Rich promptly filed an emergency request for the Supreme Court to temporarily stay the 9th Circuit ruling while they seek a rehearing of their case by the full appellate court.

The 9th Circuit, among other things, relied on its own “unreviewed” legal standard on how to treat sexual orientation cases, Mr. Otter’s request said. There is also a question about whether “man-woman marriage laws discriminate based on sexual orientation at all.”

The Idaho officials’ request also asked for a full stay, pending a request for review by the Supreme Court.

Justice Kennedy’s stay on the 9th Circuit’s ruling also froze Nevada’s plans to marry couples for several hours until he issued an order lifting it for Nevada.

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said they would not fight the 9th Circuit’s ruling. “Same-sex marriage is now law in Nevada,” they said in a statement.

Other states in the 9th Circuit likely to be affected by the 9th Circuit’s gay marriage ruling are Alaska, Montana and Arizona; Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands are also bound by the court.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of a Supreme Court order Monday — which let stand rulings in three other circuit courts that overturned five states’ definitions of marriage as a male-female union, and presumably similar laws in six more states — gay activists fought to have their marriages commence in South Carolina and North Carolina.

In South Carolina, Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin G. Condon allowed a gay couple to apply to marry Wednesday and said that, without a court order blocking him, he would issue them a license when the 24-hour waiting period was done.

Late Wednesday, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson filed a petition with the South Carolina Supreme Court asking it to stop Judge Condon from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The “constitutionality of South Carolina law remains a live issue,” Mr. Wilson wrote.

In North Carolina, U.S. District Judge William L. Osteen Jr. Wednesday lifted a stay and dismissed all motions in a gay marriage case. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper had already advised counties to be ready to issue licenses.

North Carolina lawmakers House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is running for the U.S. Senate, and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger said they would seek to intervene in the case to defend the state’s voter-passed marriage law. A spokeswoman for Mr. Berger said Wednesday they were “in the process of exploring their options.”

In Kansas, which is also affected by a circuit court ruling, a state judge Wednesday ordered a county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Earlier in the week, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said no court had overturned Kansas’ marriage law.

Wyoming and West Virginia also have upcoming court dates on gay marriage cases.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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