Updated: 9:00 p.m. EDT
Weddings, court rulings and confusion defined a week that started with the U.S. Supreme Court denying appeals from five states (Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indian and Wisconsin) seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage, followed by a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturning bans in Idaho and Nevada.
Here’s a rundown of the most recent developments, and on how the U.S. went from 19 to 29 states with marriage equality:
IDAHO, NORTH CAROLINA LEGAL OBSTACLES FALL
Legal obstacles to same-sex marriage have fallen in Idaho and North Carolina.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an order late Friday that clears the way for same-sex marriages in conservative Idaho. Gay rights supporters are cheering in Boise as state officials were trying to determine when weddings might take place.
Moments later, a federal judge in North Carolina has struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately.
The ruling follows Monday’s announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not hear any appeals of cases before the 4th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over North Carolina.
GOING TO THE CHAPEL
Gay couples in Las Vegas cheered at the marriage license bureau when days of anticipation became reality and the county clerk began granting same-sex partners the right to wed shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday. About 430 miles north, Kristy Best and Wednesday Smith became the first same-sex couple in the state to get a license about 3 p.m. Thursday.
State Sen. Kelvin Atkinson wed Sherwood Howard shortly after gay couples began receiving marriage licenses, becoming the first same-sex couple to marry in Las Vegas.
In West Virginia, same-sex couples began receiving marriage licenses after the state’s attorney general dropped his fight opposing same-sex unions. At least one couple was married in a brief civil ceremony outside the Cabell County Courthouse.
MOVEMENT ACROSS THE NATION
A federal judge heard arguments Friday on the first gay marriage ban passed in the U.S., but he did not issue a ruling. The state said the question of whether to define marriage to include gay couples should be decided by citizens, not the courts. Voters approved the ban in 1998.
A federal judge has said a 9th Circuit ruling apparently “controls the outcome” of Arizona’s gay marriage ban. The state is covered by the appellate court that struck down bans in Idaho and Nevada. Marriages have not begun in Arizona. In the meantime, marriage equality supporters delivered more than 5,000 petition signatures calling on Attorney General Tom Horne to stop defending the ban.
The state Supreme Court on Thursday refused to delay a challenge to that state’s gay marriage ban, rejecting the state attorney general who had asked the court to put the case on hold.
Four same-sex couples asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriages in accordance with the 9th Circuit ruling earlier this week. The filing came in opposition to the emergency delay from Justice Kennedy that caused confusion Wednesday. The high court lifted the stay late Friday afternoon.
The University of Notre Dame has told employees it is extending health care and other benefits to same-sex spouses after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage in Indiana after it declined to hear the state’s appeal. The Catholic university sent out an email to employees Wednesday night, a day after the state attorney general said marriage licenses must be issued to gay couples.
The state’s most populous county issued a marriage license Friday to a same-sex couple, believed to be the first in the state. But the wedding plans of gay couples across the state remained in limbo, with nearly all of the state’s 105 counties refusing to issue marriage licenses.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to block counties from issuing licenses to same-sex couples. Shortly before 6 p.m. CDT, the state Supreme Court ordered the marriages in Johnson County and all other counties on hold.
Lawyers for state Republican leaders have filed a legal brief urging a federal judge in Greensboro to allow them to intervene in a pair of cases seeking to overturn North Carolina’s gay marriage ban.
House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger filed their answer Friday shortly before a noon deadline imposed by Chief U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen Jr. in Greensboro. Osteen denied a request Thursday from the Republicans seeking an eight-day delay to prepare their arguments.
In their brief, Tillis and Berger are requesting the judge hear oral arguments, and say the court has no jurisdiction over the state’s ban. The judge denied the request to hear arguments and set a Monday 3 p.m. deadline for additional briefs in the case, indicating no ruling would be forthcoming on Friday.
Moments later, however, another federal judge in Asheville, presiding over a separate challenge, struck down North Carolina’s ban, and same-sex couples began marrying immediately as local offices reopened their doors to same-sex couples.
The state Supreme Court ordered lower state courts not to issue same-sex marriage licenses until a federal judge decides whether the state constitution’s ban on the unions is legal. The move came a day after a judge in Charleston had begun accepting applications.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Friday he is sending notice to local social services divisions that married, same-sex couples can now legally adopt children, now that same-sex marriage is legal in Virginia.