SALMON, Idaho A U.S. appeals court on Thursday put on hold a federal judge's ruling that overturned Idaho's ban on gay marriage so it could consider motions for a longer stay, blocking same-sex nuptials a day before they would otherwise have been allowed.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale had overturned Idaho's ban on same-sex matrimony on Tuesday, saying it relegated gay couples to second-class status in violation of constitutional guarantees of equal protection.
Judge Dale had ordered an end to enforcement of Idaho's gay marriage ban by Friday, and denied a request by the state's Republican governor for a stay. But a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that, putting the ruling on ice while it considers emergency motions for a longer stay.
Marriage rights have already been extended to gay men and lesbians in 17 states and the District of Columbia in a trend that has gained momentum since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last June that legally married same-sex couples nationwide are eligible for federal benefits.
That tally is expected to rise sharply if federal court decisions, which declared bans in several states unconstitutional, are upheld on appeal.