Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on Wednesday afternoon lifted a stay on allowing same-sex marriages to begin in Nevada, separating that state from Idaho, which received a temporary reprieve.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit struck down gay marriage bans in both states. Nevada officials announced that they would no longer fight the issue. But Idaho Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter (R) filed an emergency request for a stay with Kennedy, who is the justice designated to hear such petitions from states covered by the 9th Circuit.
With little more than an hour to go before Idaho was to begin issuing licenses, Kennedy granted a stay, and told challengers of the law to filed a response by Thursday afternoon.
But his order covered Nevada as well.
Challengers to Nevada’s law thought that might have been a mistake and asked the Supreme Court for clarification. A few hours later, Kennedy issued the amended order “upon further consideration.”
The actions are part of the chaotic scene that has resulted from Monday’s Supreme Court decision not to review three separate appeals courts’ decisions that struck down same-sex marriage prohibitions in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Indiana.
The court’s action means that remaining same-sex marriage bans in states covered by three appeals courts — the 10th in Denver, the 4th in Richmond and the 7th in Chicago — are unlikely to survive.
Gay rights advocates in those states raced to the courthouse to test whether the bans still applied.
On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit ruled. If its decision is fully implemented, same-sex marriage could soon be allowed in as many as 35 states.