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Oct 14, 2014 4:23 PM

NC magistrate won't marry 2 men despite ban lifted

The Associated Press

It's been more than a week since a flurry of gay marriage developments began with the Supreme Court's denial of appeals from five states, allowing for expansion of marriage rights. Shortly afterward, a federal court in the West struck down bans in Idaho and Nevada. Recent developments on same-sex marriage around the country:



A state magistrate in Pasquotank County could face disciplinary action after refusing to marry two men following the end of North Carolina's gay marriage ban. Magistrate Gary Littleton declined on Monday to perform the couple's civil ceremony, citing his religious views that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Littleton's position conflicts with orders issued by the state Administrative Office of the Courts that all judicial personnel accommodate same-sex couples just as they would heterosexual couples following last week's ruling by a federal judge striking down the prohibition. State courts spokeswoman Sharon Gladwell says she is not aware of any other magistrates who have refused to marry same-sex couples.


State Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has repeatedly called it her duty to defend the state's ban on gay marriage, now wants the state's highest court to decide whether it is legal. Her office filed a request late Monday with the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami that asks the court to immediately send two consolidated cases to the Florida Supreme Court for a decision. In both cases, judges declared the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. It's not clear how soon the court could rule if it takes up the cases. There also is a separate federal case that could be decided before then.



The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided Monday that Idaho's stay banning same-sex marriage will dissolve starting Wednesday morning. The court's decision came just after Idaho's attorney general dropped its opposition. It was unclear whether licenses would be issued Wednesday, but at least two couples who were plaintiffs in the case against the state hope to be issued them. Meanwhile, Republican Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter implied he will continue defending the ban and said in a court filing that approval of gay marriage would dissuade voters from participating in elections because it would allow the federal government to overturn state laws.



Attorneys have until next week to file motions in a lawsuit playing a key role in South Carolina's debate over the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses. U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs on Tuesday gave attorneys until Oct. 23 to file, with another three weeks for responses. Childs said she may hold a hearing in the case but not for several more weeks. Gay marriage appeared imminent last week until the state Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina must wait for Childs to rule in a case challenging the state constitution's gay marriage ban. That case is advancing again after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear an appeal of a ruling allowing same-sex marriage in Virginia by a federal appeals court that also has jurisdiction over South Carolina.



Gay marriage opponents filed a request Monday asking the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear their case against same-sex unions in Nevada. In documents calling the issue "a question of historic importance," the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage claimed bias by a three-judge panel of the court that last week struck down a 2002 Nevada constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage. The coalition said a review before the full court is necessary because judges who were "favorably disposed to arguments for expanding the rights of gay men and lesbians" were assigned to the case. A spokesman for the appeals court declined to comment.



Gay couples began applying for marriage licenses in Anchorage on Monday, 15 years after Alaska helped touch off a national debate with a ban on same-sex unions. U.S. District Judge Timothy Burgess ruled Sunday that the ban violated the due process and equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. His ruling came over the objection of gay marriage opponents who say states should decide the issue, not courts. Gay couples married outside Alaska or in ceremonies within the state that didn't carry legal standing were among those seeking licenses. There is a three-day waiting period in Alaska, so the first ceremonies can't take place until Thursday.



The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a federal court to order Kansas to allow same-sex couples to wed while the group's lawsuit against the state constitution's ban is under review. The group argued in its filing in U.S. District Court in Kansas City that it is likely to prevail. It also said that denying the right to marry even for a short period would do irreparable harm to the two lesbian couples represented by the ACLU in the case. The group wants to immediately block the state from enforcing its gay marriage ban. Attorney General Derek Schmidt's spokeswoman did not immediately return messages seeking comment.


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