Appeals court puts Idaho gay marriage plans on hold

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Idaho residents planning to gather today (May 16) at courthouses across the state to celebrate same-sex marriages saw their plans put on hold by a federal appeals court.

Idaho's gay marriage ban was overturned on May 13, when U.S. District Judge Candy Dale said the law unconstitutionally denied gay and lesbian residents their fundamental right to marry. Dale said Idaho must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting the morning of May 16.

But a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay while it considers whether a longer stay is needed.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden both asked that Dale's ruling be placed on hold while they appeal.

Dale's ruling ending the ban came in response to a lawsuit against the governor and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich brought by four same-sex couples. The judge said the ban unconstitutionally denies gay and lesbian couples their fundamental right to marry, and wrongly stigmatizes their families.

In a written statement, Otter said he appreciated the temporary stay, which he said will help avoid chaos and uncertainty.

"Meanwhile, I am proceeding with an aggressive challenge in the appellate court," Otter said.

So far, gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

Lawsuits seeking marriage equality are in the legal system in 30 states.