Updated: 9:10 p.m. EDT
For new and updated developments, check Friday’s report here →
Weddings, court rulings and confusion are defining a week that started with the U.S. Supreme Court denying appeals from five states seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage, followed by a ruling overturning some bans in Western states. Some states affected by the decisions are going ahead with weddings; some are proceeding toward marriage deliberately; and some are putting up a fight.
Here’s a rundown of the most recent developments:
SUPREME COURT TRIPS UP
The marriage confusion even tripped up someone who should definitely know better.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy mistakenly blocked the start of same-sex marriage in Nevada in an order that spawned confusion among state officials and disappointment in couples hoping to be wed. Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg confirmed the mix-up Thursday, saying Kennedy’s order issued a day earlier was an error that the justice corrected with a second order several hours later.
By that time, however, Nevada officials had decided to hold off on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Wednesday until they could be certain the legal situation was settled.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declared bans on same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada illegal on Tuesday. Idaho quickly asked the Supreme Court for a delay, but Nevada planned to allow same-sex weddings to proceed. The trouble arose because Idaho’s request to the court included a document from the appeals court that listed case numbers for both states.
MOVEMENT ACROSS THE NATION
A group that fought to keep Nevada’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage has dropped its appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The move Thursday by the Idaho-based Coalition for the Protection of Marriage left the issue with no formal opposition Nevada. Within hours, a federal appeals court again declared that same-sex couples can get married in Nevada. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Thursday that its ruling striking down Nevada’s gay marriage ban is “in full force and effect.”
In Carson City, Kristy Best and Wednesday Smith were the first same-sex couple in the state to marry after receiving their license shortly after 3 p.m. PDT. Moments after 5 p.m., the Clark County marriage bureau also began issuing marriage licenses to a same-sex couples, many of whom had been waiting at the office all day.
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.
The Las Vegas marriage bureau is open until Midnight.
In West Virginia, the state’s attorney general said his office would no longer fight to uphold the state’s ban and would respect the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision declining to review a lower-court ruling that struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages. Department of Health and Human Resources spokeswoman Allison Adler says the state registrar is telling county clerks to begin accepting marriage licenses from same-sex couples.
Within hours, West Virginia clerks issued the first marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The Arkansas Supreme Court 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.
The South Carolina 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.
A federal judge in North Carolina considered a late Wednesday request from ACLU lawyers asking him to strike down the state’s ban. GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, are seeking to intervene in legal challenges to the ban, and have hired John C. Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, to lead those efforts.
In Kansas, a judge on Wednesday ordered the state’s most populous county to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.