Idaho becomes latest US state to allow gay marriage

Written By kom nampultig on Sabtu, 11 Oktober 2014 | 08.20

WASHINGTON: A county clerk in Idaho began issuing the state's first marriage licenses to gay couples on Friday after the US Supreme Court lifted a temporary hold it imposed days earlier, capping a week of victories for supporters of same-sex matrimony in America.

The move came as barriers to gay marriage fell state by state this week, from Nevada to North Carolina, and followed days of back-and-forth federal court actions that could soon see legal weddings for same-sex couples extended to 35 states.

Susan Petersen, clerk of Latah County in northwest Idaho which includes the college town of Moscow, said she issued her first license to a lesbian couple after getting guidance from county legal advisers.

But there was no immediate word on whether licenses were being issued elsewhere in the state after the late afternoon high court action. A spokesman for Idaho's attorney general said officials were awaiting a mandate from the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals to proceed.

"We understand the very clear message sent by the US Supreme court," said the spokesman, Todd Dvorak.

The 9th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over much of the western United States, overturned gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada on Tuesday, although the Idaho ruling was briefly put on hold by the US Supreme Court at the state's request.

Nevada, where officials indicated they were ready to embrace same-sex matrimony, began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on Thursday.

'Emotional roller coaster'

Ty Carson, 41 of Boise, said she hoped to swiftly marry her partner of 16 years, with whom she has three children, even as the late afternoon timing of the decision meant that many couples might have to wait until Tuesday to wed, after a long holiday weekend.

"We've been here before," Carson said. "The reason we're going through this emotional roller coaster is so that our kids can one day laugh about how this used to be against the law."

Idaho Association of Counties deputy director Tony Poinelli said he was not aware of any plans by clerk's offices to stay open past regular business hours to process applications for the permits.

The US Supreme Court action on Friday capped a week in which its nine justices played a crucial role in paving the way for gay marriage in up to 11 states where it was previously illegal.

On Monday, the justices declined to hear appeals in seven different cases, leaving intact other regional appeals court rulings that struck down gay marriage bans in five states, and could indirectly impact six more.

In North Carolina, US District Judge Max Cogburn struck down that state's prohibition, writing in his ruling that it was neither a political nor a moral issue.

"It is a legal issue and it is clear as a matter of what is now settled law ... (that the state's laws banning gay nuptials) are unconstitutional," Cogburn wrote.

A day after the Supreme Court made its surprise announcement, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down Idaho and Nevada's bans, in rulings that will in turn affect three more states in its jurisdiction: Arizona, Alaska and Montana.

In Anchorage, a federal judge heard arguments on Friday in a lawsuit brought by five same-sex couples challenging that state's prohibition.

Allison Mendell, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said they are in a winning position, but the fight is not over yet.

"In some states, the attorney general and governor have thrown in the towel. Ours hasn't," Mendell said.

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