(Reuters) - Idaho’s Republican governor said on Tuesday he would not challenge a federal appeals court ruling that made gay marriage legal in the state, removing any remaining uncertainty over the future for same-sex couples.
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said he continued to believe the federal courts were wrong to abandon what he called the sanctity of “traditional” marriage, and he accused them of undermining the will of Idaho voters and states’ rights.
“But we are a civil society that respects the rule of law,” he said in a brief statement. “We have done all we can through the courts for now to defend traditional marriage in Idaho.”
Otter’s acquiescence means enforcement of the ruling issued a week ago by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals takes effect on Wednesday morning in Idaho.
The clerk of Latah County, in northwest Idaho, which includes the college town of Moscow, said she issued her first license to a lesbian couple on Friday afternoon after getting guidance from county legal advisers.
But it appeared that clerks elsewhere waited for the 9th Circuit to issue a mandate for its ruling to come into force.
The 9th Circuit’s ruling last Tuesday, which also legalized same-sex nuptials in Nevada, had been put on hold after Idaho officials requested a temporary stay. That hurdle was lifted on Friday by a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Barriers to gay matrimony tumbled state by state last week during days of back-and-forth federal court actions that could soon see legal same-sex marriage extended to 35 states.
In court papers filed with the 9th Circuit on Monday, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said his office was withdrawing its request for a stay, and he cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s action last week that left intact lower court rulings striking down gay marriage bans in five other states.
Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney