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Supreme Court Allows Idaho Same-Sex Marriages To Proceed, Ends Stay

A Friday order from the court. [Update: At least one Idaho county began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Friday evening.]

Posted on October 10, 2014, at 5:30 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Friday afternoon ended the temporary halt on same-sex couples' marriages in Idaho.

In a two-sentence order from the court — with no listed justices dissenting — it ended the hold on the Idaho marriage case that was issued by Justice Anthony Kennedy earlier this week.

On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld a trial court ruling that Idaho's ban is unconstitutional. Later Tuesday, it issued the mandate, which is the final step putting the ruling into effect.

On Wednesday morning, however, Idaho officials asked the Supreme Court — in a filing to Kennedy — to put the ruling on hold during any appeal the state might pursue.

Kennedy granted a temporary stay while the Supreme Court considered Idaho's request and heard from the same-sex couple plaintiffs in the case. In the meantime, however, the 9th Circuit recalled its mandate — a move it is now likely to reverse given Friday's order from the Supreme Court.

Assuming the mandate is reissued, it is likely that same-sex couples will be able to marry shortly in Idaho.

The 9th Circuit hasn't reissued the mandate yet, but one county isn't waiting:

Eye on Boise: Latah County has now issued 3 marriage licenses to same-sex couples, 3 more waiting #idpol #gaymarriage

Betsy Z. Russell@BetsyZRussellFollow

Eye on Boise: Latah County has now issued 3 marriage licenses to same-sex couples, 3 more waiting #idpol #gaymarriage

7:52 PM - 10 Oct 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

A bigger sign?

Although the stay denial is important for the same-sex couples in Idaho wishing to marry, the Supreme Court's decision to deny a stay marks an unexplained — and potentially important — change from the high court.

As this year began, the Supreme Court issued a stay during Utah's appeal of the trial court decision striking down its marriage ban. The decision — and two later moves by the court to issue stays in other marriage or marriage recognition cases — signaled to lower courts that such stays were the appropriate course of action during appeals of marriage cases. In fact, many courts cited the Supreme Court's granting of stays in their own decisions to grant stays during state appeals.

Now — after the Supreme Court denied all of the pending requests to hear marriage appeals on Monday — however, the court also has denied the stay Idaho requested pending any appeal it seeks. As courts took the cue from the Supreme Court as to the stay in Utah and other stays, courts likely will take this move as a sign that stays are no longer required during marriage appeals.

[Update: This post was updated as more information became available, with the final update at 7 p.m.]