A federal appeals court intervened on Thursday to place a temporary hold on same-sex marriages in Idaho, just one day before an earlier court decision ordered them to begin. The appeals court will now consider the state's request to place a longer stay on the decision during the appeals process.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter his split his time this week between participating in what must be the greatest gubernatorial debate in all of recorded history and promising to appeal a Tuesday court decision against his state's same-sex marriage ban. U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled that the ban was unconstitutional on Tuesday, but gave the state until Friday at 9 a.m. to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses — or to get a higher court to intervene. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Otter a temporary stay "pending this court’s disposition of appellants’ emergency motions for a stay pending appeal," as the Idaho Statesman reported.
Judge Dale's 57-page decision more or less eviscerated the state's justification for the 2006 ban, a constitutional amendment approved by the state's voters. She wrote that the laws "deny its gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental right to marry and relegate their families to a stigmatized, second-class status without sufficient reason for doing so," adding that the laws, in her opinion, would not "withstand any applicable level of constitutional scrutiny." In justifying her order to the state to begin same-sex marriages on Friday, Dale said that she believed Otter's appeal isn't likely to succeed. Otter, for what it's worth, has promised to appeal any ruling against the state ban all the way to the Supreme Court.