BREAKING: Federal Appeals Court Temporarily Delays Idaho Marriage Equality

Same-sex couples in Idaho will not be able to get married Friday, as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considers the state's appeal of a ruling establishing marriage equality in the state.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

May 15 2014 4:25 PM ET

The plaintiffs challenging Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has granted a temporary stay of a federal judge's ruling that ordered marriage equality to begin Friday in Idaho, while it considers the state's overall appeal of the ruling striking down Idaho's constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage. 

The one-sentence order, delivered Thursday afternoon, puts a temporary hold on the enactment of marriage equality, announcing, "The district court’s May 13, 2014 order is temporarily stayed pending this court’s disposition of appellants’ emergency motions for a stay pending appeal." The order does not specify how long the temporary stay will last, or when the appeals court will consider the state's request. 

Even before U.S. District Magistrate Candy Wagahoff Dale's Tuesday ruling, which found that Idaho's voter-approved constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution, Idaho's Republican governor, Butch Otter, filed a preemptive request for a stay of the ruling, which Judge Dale subsequently denied. As a result, lawyers representing Otter turned to the Ninth Circuit, requesting an emergency stay to prevent "the unseemly chaos, confusion, conflict, uncertainty, and spawn of further litigation" seen in other states where same-sex marriages had briefly been legal before being halted by a court stay. 

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, four same-sex couples represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, expressed cautious optimism that the appeals court was carefully considering their request to deny the state's appeal. 

"We are pleased the Ninth Circuit will carefully consider our clients’ arguments that no stay of the district court’s order is warranted," said NCLR senior staff attorney Christopher Stoll. "We trust the court will consider the matter promptly. We hope the appeals court will allow the district court’s order to take effect as soon as possible so that all Idaho families can enjoy the important protections that marriage provides."

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