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.
(Reporting By Laura Zuckerman; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Ken Wills)