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9th Circuit lifts Idaho stay, same-sex marriages begin Wednesday

9th Circuit lifts Idaho stay, same-sex marriages begin Wednesday

BOISE, Idaho — The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says Idaho’s stay banning same-sex marriage dissolves starting Wednesday morning.

The court’s Monday decision came just after Idaho’s attorney general dropped its opposition. Meanwhile, Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter maintained his resistance in a separate court filing.

IdahoThe developments mark the latest legal wrangling over the issue after a week of hectic activity in Idaho and across the nation. Orders announcing same-sex marriage delays and then appeals from both sides of the issue caused a flurry of confusion in multiple states.

By Friday, most county clerks in Idaho were still waiting for guidance from the attorney general’s office after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier in the day that gay marriages could proceed in the state. Northern Idaho’s Latah County, however, issued licenses to six gay couples, five of which were then married on the courthouse lawn.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said in the Monday order that his office, along with clients Ada County Clerk Christopher Rich and the state of Idaho, would not oppose lifting the stay.

Wasden noted that the non-opposition does not signify that his office changed its position fighting gay marriage in Idaho, and they are still considering other legal options.

In a separate filing, Otter repeated his prior arguments opposing gay marriage in Idaho – presented unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court on Friday- and implied he will continue fighting.

Otter also added that approving gay marriage would “dissuade” Idaho voters from participating in elections because it would allow the federal government to overturn state laws.

“Similarly, if laws passed by state legislatures can be overturned without the state having an opportunity for full appellate review before the law loses its force, why should ordinary citizens bother to vote for state office-holders?” asked Otter’s attorneys in the motion.

Deborah Ferguson, one of the attorneys representing the four couples who sued to overturn Idaho’s ban on gay marriage nearly a year ago, called Otter’s latest argument as “exceptionally weak.”

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“It’s a variation of the same theme of state-sovereignty he’s used in the past, but to say that Idaho voters will only care about federal elections is farfetched and desperate,” Ferguson said.

The court’s decision to wait to lift the stay until Wednesday was probably done to give Otter time to appeal to the Supreme Court if he chooses to do so, she said.

Ferguson added that while the eight Idaho plaintiffs have maintained hope throughout the complicated legal process, it’s also been a difficult journey.

Two of the coupes are hoping to get marriage licenses Wednesday, Ferguson said, after facing two denials last week and in May. The other two couples have already legally married in other states.

“They’ve been very strong throughout this process,” Ferguson said. “We’re so excited about Wednesday and moving forward.”

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