BOISE, Idaho — At least one county clerk in Idaho has allowed gay weddings to begin in the state, issuing same-sex marriage licenses Friday after the U.S. Supreme Court said the unions could proceed here.
The high court issued the order Friday, lifting a stay that had been ordered this week by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The flurry of legal activity surrounding gay marriage capped a hectic week in Idaho and across the nation. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied appeals from five states seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage.
Other county clerks were waiting to hear from the state attorney general. The attorney general's office said a final order was needed from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That order would formally implement the appellate court's ruling earlier this week, which found Idaho's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.
"We are in communication with county clerks across the state and will advise them how to proceed when we get an indication from the 9th," said Todd Dvorak, a spokesman for Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.
The appellate court ruling striking down Idaho's ban came Tuesday, but that decision was halted as state officials pressed their case to preserve the ban.
Dan Chadwick, the executive director of the Idaho Association of Counties, said Friday that as soon as the 9th Circuit issues a mandate, county clerks across the state will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
But the courthouses won't change their hours because of the ruling, Chadwick said, and wouldn't reopen until Tuesday morning because of the Columbus Day holiday.
However Susan Petersen, the clerk of Latah County in northern Idaho, said late Friday afternoon she had issued a total of six marriage licenses to same-sex couples before closing at 5 p.m.
"They were jubilant," she said in a telephone interview from the liberal college town of Moscow.
Petersen said she consulted with the county prosecuting attorney's office and was told to start issuing licenses.
"I hope I did the right thing," Petersen said. "We're just trying to follow the law."
Gay couples elsewhere in the state had to wait a little longer.
Machelle Migneault rushed to the Ada County courthouse with her partner after she learned of the most recent Supreme Court decision.
"I zoomed right over here," she said, only to learn that marriage licenses weren't yet available.
"It's just been a roller coaster of emotion," the 49-year-old said.
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Wasden had appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping to block gay marriages. Otter has said he needed to be "faithful to my oath of office and keep working to protect the Idaho Constitution and the mandate of Idaho voters in support of traditional marriage."
Otter and Wasden hoped the full 9th Circuit court would hear their case.
Chris Rich, Ada County clerk in Boise, told couples gathered there that he'd received no official word by 5 p.m., and they should check back Tuesday.
"Until I get word, I really can't do anything," Rich said.
Ann Dutson Sater, the recorder of Bonner County in northern Idaho, said she was in the same position.
"We have gotten quite a few phone calls from people who would like to get married," Sater said Friday afternoon.
Amber and Rachael Beierle were among the original plaintiffs in the Idaho case. They went to the Ada County courthouse Friday afternoon.
"This is our third turn at the counter," said Rachael Beierle, referring to their earlier attempts to get marriage licenses following court rulings.
"We certainly know it's either today or Tuesday, so that's a sense of relief," Amber Beierle said. "Idaho is ready for change."
AP reporter Nicholas K. Geranios contributed from Spokane, Washington.