The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted the last final legal barrier preventing same-sex couples from marrying in Idaho, allowing gay nuptials to begin in the state Wednesday.
A week after its decision against marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada, a three-judge panel on the court issued an order Monday dissolving its stay on the ruling as it pertains to Idaho. The two-page order will be effective Wednesday at 9 am Pacific Time (12 pm local time).
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which had filed the lawsuit seeking same-sex marriage in Idaho, hailed the move as a positive decision for same-sex couples in the state.
“Today’s order means that two days from now, all Idahoans will have the freedom to marry,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “At long last, all Idaho families will enjoy the dignity, security, and protection that marriage provides. We thank the brave plaintiff couples who had the courage to challenge these exclusionary laws and congratulate them on this historic victory.”
The Ninth Circuit stay on Idaho same-sex marriages was enacted in May after an initial district court ruling against the state’s marriage law. U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy issued his own stay last week, but the Supreme Court declined to extend it on Friday and vacated Kennedy’s order.
Prior to the order on Monday, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, a Republican who’s defending the state’s marriage ban, filed a legal brief asking the Ninth Circuit to keep its stay in place, saying he plans to seek review before the full Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, however, took a non-position on the continuation of the Ninth Circuit due to actions from the Supreme Court.
Although the Ninth Circuit had initially, and unexpectedly, initially dissolved its stay last week by issuing the mandate on its ruling the same day it ruled against the same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada, the court later recalled this action after Kennedy issued his stay.
When the Supreme Court acted again to dissolve its stay late Friday, some legal observers expected the Ninth Circuit act immediately to reissue its mandate, but nothing came down. The order dissolving the stay was finally issued on Monday after the National Center Lesbian Rights requested that the Ninth Circuit make final its ruling against the state’s marriage law.