LAS VEGAS—Wedding chapels in Las Vegas readied for a flood of gay couples on Wednesday as bans on same-sex marriage were imposed and lifted in dizzying fashion.
But in a sign of the uncertainty over gay marriage across the U.S., clerks who had gender-neutral marriage licenses all ready to issue were waiting to hear whether they should start.
“I think I have whiplash,” said Mary Baranovich who was a plaintiff in the Nevada case with Beverly Sevcik, her partner of 43 years.
The uncertainty in the self-proclaimed wedding capital of the world spread across the U.S. as the Supreme Court allowed same-sex couples in Nevada to exchange vows but blocked those in Idaho from doing the same.
Meanwhile, a judge in northeast Kansas ordered a county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying the decision was meant to avoid confusion about the legal climate surrounding gay marriages. Kansas was one of the states affected by a Supreme Court ruling Monday that kicked off the latest flurry of legal decisions.
In Idaho, weddings were definitely off. One couple was a few feet away from the clerk who could help make their union official when their attorney was told it wasn’t happening.
Amber Beierle, one of the eight women who sued the state over the gay marriage ban, had hoped to marry her partner, Rachael. They arrived at the courthouse before it opened at 8 a.m.
“We were past the metal detectors, we were just a few feet away from the clerk and then our attorney was handed a one-page document,” Beierle said. “Apparently it was Justice Kennedy telling us no.”
She said the hardest part was calling her mom to tell her she wasn’t going to be able to get married after all.
State after state has joined the national tide in seeing same-sex unions made legal, given a push by the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to hear appeals that essentially made gay marriage legal in 30 states.
Then Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled gay couples’ equal protection rights were violated by the gay marriage bans in both states.
It’s unclear just how long the Supreme Court stay will remain in effect in Idaho.
In Las Vegas, Tara Traynor and her fiancee, Cathy Grimes, were waiting in the regular line at the Clark County Marriage License Bureau on Wednesday afternoon, checking their phones for gay marriage court developments and letting straight couples cut in front of them while waited for the legal OK to get a license themselves.
“It’s kinda disheartening,” Traynor said. “We wait and wait and we’re hopeful.”
Traynor, 38, and Grimes, 53, have been together for eight years, were among the first couples to register as domestic partners in Nevada, and ran over to the bureau on Wednesday when they thought they could get a license.
“We wanted to be a part of history,” Traynor said. “It’s not as busy as I thought it would be, but it’s happy and everyone seems to be really upbeat.”
Pierceall reported from Las Vegas. Associated Press reporters Ken Ritter and Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas, Rebecca Boone in Boise and Paul Elias in San Francisco contributed to this report.