Appeals court puts gay marriage on hold

  • By Mark Thiessen
  • Wednesday, October 15, 2014 11:09pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE — The federal appeals court for the West on Wednesday issued a temporary halt to gay marriages in Alaska, just hours before most couples would be allowed to tie the knot.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted a temporary halt until late Friday morning to allow the state to take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The appeals court said barring a stay from the nation’s highest court, gay marriages would resume in Alaska at 11 a.m. Friday.

“Based on what’s happened with Nevada and Idaho, I don’t really see how they are going to get a stay from the Supreme Court,” said Allison Mendel, the lead attorney for five gay couples who sued to overturn Alaska’s ban on gay marriage.

The Supreme Court did issue a temporary stay to Idaho, but that was lifted Wednesday and gay couples began marrying.

“I think it’s probably a disappointment to people who thought they were getting married tomorrow, but I doubt it will be much more than that,” she said.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess on Sunday struck down the ban put in place by Alaska voters in 1998 limiting marriage to one man and one woman, saying it violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

That cleared the way for gay couples to begin applying for marriage licenses Monday morning, triggering a three-day wait period until ceremonies could be held.

However, some judges waived the three-day requirement, and a handful of gay couples have already married. The status of those marriages wasn’t immediately clear.

Gov. Sean Parnell has said it’s a state sovereignty issue, and voters — not the courts — should decide if gay marriage should be allowed.

The state attorney general’s office sought but didn’t receive a stay from Burgess after his decision and went to the 9th Circuit late Tuesday.

“Alaskans should be curious and disappointed why Gov. Parnell and his administration continue to try to throw good money after bad and perpetuate discrimination against Alaskans,” said Joshua Decker, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska.

“When an Alaska constitutional principle has been invalidated by a lower court, the governor believes he is bound by his oath to defend Alaska’s Constitution,” Parnell’s spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, said in an email to The Associated Press. “That is what he is doing.”

The state planned to file its appeal for a stay with the Supreme Court Wednesday evening.

More in News

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska redistricting board picks new Senate map after Supreme Court finds a gerrymander

The board could continue work and possibly write a different map for the elections from 2024 onward

A landslide blocks Lowell Point Road in Seward, Alaska, on Sunday, May 8, 2022. (Photo courtesy City of Seward)
Lowell Point Road to reopen Friday

Intermittent blasting work will continue next week

Members of the Kenai City Council participate in a council meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Boys and girls clubs land donation postponed

The issue will be back before the body on June 1

Vehicles are unleaded at the Seward Harbor after being moved from Lowell Point on Sunday, May 22, 2022 in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Lowell Point barge services move 110-plus cars to Seward

The services were covered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and ended Monday

Anglers fish on the Kenai River on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Watershed Forum receives matching grant from Conoco

The Kenai Watershed Forum was given a grant from ConocoPhillips to fund… Continue reading

A beach on the eastern side of Cook Inlet is photographed at Clam Gulch, Alaska, in June 2019. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is implementing new shellfish regulations in Cook Inlet. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Fish and Game closes East Cook Inlet razor clam fisheries

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the Cook Inlet… Continue reading

Anastasia Scollon (left) and Willow King (right) stand in The Goods + Sustainable Grocery and Where it’s At mindful food and drink on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sustainable shopping finds new home in Soldotna

The Collective used to operate out of Cook Inletkeeper’s Community Action Studio

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Most Read