Supreme Court denies stay; same-sex marriages can continue in Alaska

United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. (© Jarek Tuszynski / Wikimedia Commons)
United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. (© Jarek Tuszynski / Wikimedia Commons)

Same-sex marriages are legal again in Alaska. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the state a stay, which would have stopped the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the 9th Circuit Court heard the state’s appeal early next year.

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Despite the ruling, the governor’s office issued a statement saying they will continue with the appeals process because Governor Sean Parnell has sworn to uphold the state’s constitution. In 1998, voters approved a constitutional amendment in Alaska to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Joshua Decker, executive director of Alaska’s ACLU, says the governor’s continued appeal is a waste of taxpayer’s money.

“Governor Parnell took an oath to support the Alaska constitution, but he also took an oath to support the US constitution. And we have now had all three levels of the federal court weigh in on this issue.”

The week has been a legal ping-pong match. The Alaska District Court overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban on Sunday. Couples began applying for licenses on Monday, and three couples were allowed to wed immediately. As others sat out the mandatory three-day waiting period, the state was granted a temporary stay by the 9th Circuit Court on Wednesday in order to give the Supreme Court a chance to make a decision. That stay was lifted this morning at 11 am when the Supreme Court denied the request. The 9th Circuit says they will not issue another stay.

Same-sex couples can receive marriage licenses when state courts and offices re-open on Monday. Friday is a state holiday.

The 9th Circuit will hear the state’s appeal early next year. The state must file their brief by late January 2015.

Arizona’s same-sex marriage ban was also overturned Friday. The state’s attorney general will not appeal the decision because the 9th Circuit, which also governs that state, has already overturned bans in both Idaho and Nevada.