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Appeals court grants temporary stay in same-sex marriage ruling

  • Author: Suzanna Caldwell
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published October 15, 2014

NOTE: This article has been updated. Click here for the most recent version.

UPDATE: 4:10 p.m. Wednesday:

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay Wednesday that could potentially halt same-sex marriages in Alaska.

The two-page order granted a temporary stay in Sunday's Hamby v. Parnell ruling until 11 a.m. Alaska time Friday, giving the appellants an opportunity to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court if they choose.

The court denied a stay through the appeal to overturn the decision, which has been pending since Monday.

It was unclear if this means marriages will be halted in Alaska, according to Allison Mendel, one of three attorneys representing plaintiffs in the case. She said that decision would be up to the state.

"If (the 9th Circuit) granted the stay, then the state can abide by the opinion or not, but they don't have to," she said.

Calls and emails to the state Department of Law were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Couples began applying for marriage licenses Monday morning in the hopes of legally marrying after the three-day waiting period Thursday morning.

Original story:

Legal maneuvering surrounding Alaska's same-sex marriage ban continued Wednesday, as plaintiffs filed an opposition to an emergency stay requested by the state at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday evening.

Attorneys for plaintiffs in Hamby v. Parnell argued that the court should deny a stay in the case from the 9th Circuit, which includes Alaska in its jurisdiction. The state Department of Law filed an emergency motion late Tuesday night after a stay at the U.S. District Court level was denied by Judge Timothy Burgess.

If a stay is granted, same-sex marriages in Alaska would halt.

On Sunday, Burgess found Alaska's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to be in violation of equal protection and due process clauses in the U.S. Constitution. The state began allowing couples to apply for marriage licenses Monday morning.

In their opposition to the emergency motion, attorneys Caitlin Shortell, Heather Gardner and Allison Mendel argue the stay should be denied because the state has not "made a strong showing of likelihood of success" and that they have not shown "irreparable damage" as result of a stay.

Tuesday night the state argued the possibility of the 9th Circuit hearing the case "en banc" by a larger panel of judges or that another circuit court could rule to uphold a similar marriage case and cause a "circuit split," forcing the Supreme Court to act on the issue.

The state asked the court to rule before Thursday, when couples who applied for marriage licenses Monday can become officially married following a three-day waiting period.

Alaska can now appeal the decision to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy originally granted a stay in the Idaho case, though the U.S. Supreme Court quickly lifted it. Marriages in Idaho began Wednesday morning.

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