BOISE, Idaho — Several same-sex couples, their families and friends gathered at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise Wednesday morning, eager to be first in line for marriage licenses after a federal appellate court rejected Idaho’s ban on gay marriages.
But their mood turned from joyous to devastated in a heartbeat as the county clerk, Chris Rich, handed a slip of paper from the U.S. Supreme Court to attorney Deborah Ferguson.
It was an emergency stay, putting any same-sex weddings on hold, issued by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Kennedy’s order came a little more than an hour after Idaho on Wednesday filed an emergency request for an immediate stay. The state’s request said that without a stay, state and county officials would have been required to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Wednesday morning.
Couples were already lined up to get married, but their mood turned from joyous to devastated after the stay came down.
Amber Beierle, one of the eight women who sued Idaho over its gay marriage ban, had hoped to marry her partner, Rachael Robertson, on Wednesday.
“We were past the metal detectors, we were just a few feet away from the clerk, and then our attorney was handed a one-page document,” Beirle said. “Apparently it was Justice Kennedy telling us no.”
She said the hardest part was calling her mom to tell her she wasn’t going to be able to get married after all.
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said he was glad Kennedy acted quickly.
“I’m pleased that Justice Kennedy has given us the opportunity to make our case in a way that helps avoid the confusion some other states have faced,” Otter said. “I intend to be faithful to my oath of office and keep working to protect the Idaho Constitution and the mandate of Idaho voters in support of traditional marriage.”
The delay could last just a few days. Kennedy’s order requested a response from the plaintiffs involved in Idaho’s gay marriage lawsuit by the end of Thursday.
The full court almost certainly would weigh in to extend the delay much beyond the weekend. That has been the justices’ practice in other cases in which a single justice initially blocked a ruling from taking effect.
Developing story. This report will be updated.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.