Same-sex marriages on hold in Nevada after Supreme Court justice issues stay

Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas KIMBERLY PIERCEALL [ap]

Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas

Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — A U.S. Supreme Court justice on Wednesday temporarily blocked a lower-court ruling that declared gay marriage legal in Nevada and Idaho, dashing plans in Las Vegas to start performing gay nuptials in the self-proclaimed marriage capital of the world.

Nevada and Idaho had joined the rapidly growing number of states where same-sex marriage is legal when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that gay couples’ equal protection rights were violated by the gay marriage bans in both states. That decision came a day after the Supreme Court turned away state appeals, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in several more states, bringing the U.S. total to 30.

In Las Vegas, the Marriage License Bureau had been expected to issue licenses for same-sex couples starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday, but Clark County Clerk Diane Alba told The Associated Press that it’s clear, at least for now, that she can’t issue gender-neutral marriage licenses after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s order temporarily halting same-sex marriages.

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.

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.

Las Vegas had been preparing for gay weddings. The county’s marriage licenses went gender-neutral a couple weeks ago, just in case. Chapels had photographers practice with models to see how they might best shoot two brides in gowns.

In its decision Tuesday about Nevada and Idaho’s gay marriage bans, 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel that laws treating people differently based on sexual orientation are unconstitutional unless there is a compelling government interest.

He wrote that neither Idaho nor Nevada offered any legitimate reasons to discriminate against gay couples.

Developing story. This report will be updated.

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