October 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Supreme Court lifts stay on Idaho same-sex marriages
Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade

The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted its stay on Idaho same-sex marriages. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Supreme Court lifted on Friday a stay placed on same-sex marriages in Idaho, but gay couples still won’t be able to wed in the state for the time being.

In a one-page order, the court indicates that a stay request from Idaho officials on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was brought to the entire bench and subsequently denied.

That means the temporary stay that U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy issued on Tuesday is now dissolved.

However, because the Ninth Circuit has withdrawn its mandate in the case, same-sex couples still won’t be able to wed in the state at this time.

When the conclusion of business hours on Friday on the Pacific Coast passed without word from the Ninth Circuit, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which had filed the lawsuit in Idaho, announced it filed a request with the court to expedite an order allowing same-sex couples to wed in the state.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court confirms that there is no reason to delay allowing all Idaho families to enjoy the dignity, security, and protection that marriage provides,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We hope that the Ninth Circuit’s decision will go into effect quickly so that all Idahoans will have the freedom to marry as soon as possible.”

Todd Dvorak, a spokesperson for Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, said the state is awaiting further action from the Ninth Circuit.

“We understand the direction from the U.S. Supreme Court and now look to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,” Dvorak said. “The Attorney General is communicating with county clerks across the state and keeping them informed of the status of the case before the appeals court.”

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who was defending Idaho’s marriage ban, threw in the towel in a separate statement, saying he’ll comply with whatever order comes from the court.

“The Supreme Court’s order lifting Justice Kennedy’s stay effectively allows same-sex marriage in Idaho as soon as the Ninth Circuit directs compliance with its decision,” Otter said. “I disagree with the court’s conclusion, which negates the 2006 vote of the people of Idaho, is contrary to the values of most Idahoans, and undermines fundamental states’ rights. But we are a nation of laws. Idaho now should proceed with civility and in an orderly manner to comply with any forthcoming order from the 9th Circuit.”

It’s the first time the Supreme Court lifted a stay on a decision in favor of same-sex marriage without first considering a petition for review. The court had previously stayed court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage in Utah and Virginia pending appeal.

Adam Romero, federal legal director for the University of California, Los Angeles, said the decision to lift the stay “strongly indicates” the court will no longer place on hold rulings in favor of same-sex marriage.

“If a federal Court of Appeals or state Supreme Court upholds a state marriage ban, and therefore creates a irreconcilable conflict among the lower courts, the Supreme Court will need to resolve that conflict,” Romero said. “Until then and perhaps after, I expect that the Court will allow lower court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage to go into effect pending Supreme Court review.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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