The move came as barriers to gay marriage fell state by state this
week and followed days of back-and-forth federal court actions that
could soon see legal weddings for same-sex couples extended to 35
The U.S. Supreme Court removed a temporary hold it imposed earlier
in the week in Idaho's case, giving a green light for same-sex
nuptials in the mountainous state.
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
But there was no immediate word on whether permits were being issued
elsewhere in the state. A spokesman for Idaho's attorney general
said officials were awaiting a mandate from the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals to proceed.
The state's Republican governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter, said the move
to allow gay marriage ran "contrary to the values of most Idahoans"
and undermined fundamental states' rights.
"But we are a nation of laws," Otter said in a statement. "Idaho now
should proceed with civility and in an orderly manner to comply with
any forthcoming order from the 9th Circuit."
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
U.S. 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
'EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER'
Ty Carson, 41 of Boise, said she hoped soon to marry her partner of
16 years, with whom she has three children, even as the late
afternoon timing of the decision meant 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."
The U.S. 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.
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On Monday, the justices declined to hear appeals in seven different
cases, leaving intact other regional appeals court rulings that
struck down gay marriage prohibitions in five states, and could
indirectly impact six more.
In North Carolina, U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn knocked down that
state's ban, saying 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," Cogburn wrote.
North Carolina's Republican Governor, Pat McCrory, said the
administration will execute the court's order, and at least one
county office said they will issue licenses on Friday.
Drew Reisinger, the Buncombe County Register of Deeds, said it was
an honor to acknowledge "the full equality and humanity" of those
seeking to marry, and he said his office will stay open late on
Friday to meet the expected demand.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley in Washington and Laura Zuckerman in
Jackson, Wyoming; Additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins in
Charleston; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh,
Marguerita Choy and Sandra Maler)
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