It's been more than a week since a flurry of gay marriage developments began with the Supreme Court's denial of appeals from five states, allowing for expansion of marriage rights. Shortly afterward, a federal court in the West struck down bans in Idaho and Nevada. Recent developments on same-sex marriage around the country:
A state magistrate in Pasquotank County could face disciplinary action after refusing to marry two men following the end of North Carolina's gay marriage ban. Magistrate Gary Littleton declined on Monday to perform the couple's civil ceremony, citing his religious views that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Littleton's position conflicts with orders issued by the state Administrative Office of the Courts that all judicial personnel accommodate same-sex couples just as they would heterosexual couples following last week's ruling by a federal judge striking down the prohibition. State courts spokeswoman Sharon Gladwell says she is not aware of any other magistrates who have refused to marry same-sex couples. Meanwhile, a federal judge has allowed Republican lawmakers to intervene in a pair of challenges to North Carolina's now-defunct gay marriage ban, potentially enabling them to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
State Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has repeatedly called it her duty to defend the state's ban on gay marriage, now wants the state's highest court to decide whether it is legal. Her office filed a request late Monday with the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami that asks the court to immediately send two consolidated cases to the Florida Supreme Court for a decision. In both cases, judges declared the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. It's not clear how soon the court could rule if it takes up the cases. There also is a separate federal case that could be decided before then.
A magistrate in a remote town on Alaska's Arctic Coast where people are used to doing their own thing has performed what is believed to be the state's first gay marriage ceremony ahead of schedule after a federal judge struck down the state's ban. Couples lined up across the state to get licenses Monday morning, beginning the clock on a mandatory three-day wait until ceremonies could be performed. However, in Barrow, Kristine Hilderbrand said Magistrate Mary Treiber agreed to waive the wait requirement and married her and Sarah Ellis late Monday afternoon. Hilderbrand says gay marriage is not really an issue in Barrow. She says people in the community “accept you for who you are.” Alaska helped touch off a national debate 15 years ago with a ban on same-sex unions.
Idaho gay couples celebrated across the state as county clerks began issuing same-sex marriage licenses at 9 a.m. Pacific Wednesday morning. Idaho leaders warned, however, that the fight over allowing gay marriage in one of the nation's most conservative states is not over. While Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said he would not appeal the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal's decision to lift the state's ban on gay marriage, he later promised that he would not give up defending Idaho's constitution which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Attorneys have until next week to file motions in a lawsuit playing a key role in South Carolina's debate over the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses. U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs on Tuesday gave attorneys until Oct. 23 to file, with another three weeks for responses. Childs said she may hold a hearing in the case but not for several more weeks. Gay marriage appeared imminent last week until the state Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina must wait for Childs to rule in a case challenging the state constitution's gay marriage ban. That case is advancing again after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear an appeal of a ruling allowing same-sex marriage in Virginia by a federal appeals court that also has jurisdiction over South Carolina.
Gay marriage opponents filed a request Monday asking the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear their case against same-sex unions in Nevada. In documents calling the issue “a question of historic importance,” the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage claimed bias by a three-judge panel of the court that last week struck down a 2002 Nevada constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage. The coalition said a review before the full court is necessary because judges who were “favorably disposed to arguments for expanding the rights of gay men and lesbians” were assigned to the case. A spokesman for the appeals court declined to comment.
The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal court to order Kansas to allow same-sex couples to wed while the group's lawsuit against the state constitution's ban is under review. The group argued in its filing in U.S. District Court in Kansas City that it is likely to prevail. It also said that denying the right to marry even for a short period would do irreparable harm to the two lesbian couples represented by the ACLU in the case. The group wants to immediately block the state from enforcing its gay marriage ban. Attorney General Derek Schmidt's spokeswoman did not immediately return messages seeking comment.