SAN FRANCISCO – Legal momentum for extending U.S. marriage rights to same-sex couples accelerated as a federal appeals court struck down bans on gay matrimony in Idaho and Nevada on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand similar rulings for five other states.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the bans in Idaho and Nevada violated the Constitution and cannot be enforced, adding to a growing list of states where same-sex unions are now legal.
The 9th Circuit move puts the United States on track for legal gay marriage in 35 states, as rulings by the court are binding on all states in its region, including three others that do not permit gay marriage: Arizona, Montana and Alaska.
Gay marriage advocates say the U.S. Supreme Court sent a clear message on Monday by letting stand court rulings allowing gay marriage for five states. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued orders on Tuesday that put into effect an earlier ruling that struck down bans in Wisconsin and Indiana. Gay marriages have already gone ahead in Virginia, Utah and Oklahoma.
In Colorado, which lies in the same judicial appeals circuit as Utah, the Republican attorney general told county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples after that state’s Supreme Court lifted stays in two related cases.