BOISE, Idaho - A federal appeals court declared gay marriage legal in Idaho and Nevada on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized same-sex marriage in 30 other states.
The appeals court followed its ruling a few hours later with a mandate allowing the Idaho marriages to start immediately. That means that same-sex couples in Idaho won't have to wait for the standard seven-day time span for the ruling to take effect.
"This is a super sweet victory," said Sue Latta, who along with Traci Ehlers sued Idaho last year to compel the state to recognize their 2008 marriage in California. Three other couples also joined the lawsuit to invalidate Idaho's same-sex marriage ban.
"Taxes are easier, real estate is easier, parenting is easier, end-of-life planning is easier," Latta said.
The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure typically provide the seven-day waiting period to give the losing side a chance to appeal.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that gay couples' equal protection rights were violated by the bans in both states. But in Nevada a U.S. District Court judge still must issue a formal injunction overturning the gay marriage ban.
Logan Seven, 54, a limousine driver for Chapelle de l'amour wedding chapel in downtown Las Vegas, said he always wanted to get married on a beach, barefoot and in a white tuxedo.
The Chicago native said he was surprised when he moved to Las Vegas and learned that the town that touts itself as a marriage capital didn't allow gay marriages. "It's a no-brainer," Seven said. "Love is love."
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto issued a joint statement saying it could be two weeks before a final order is issued by a U.S. District Court judge in Nevada. They said county clerks and district attorneys should be making plans to handle marriage licenses.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel that laws that treat people differently based on sexual orientation are unconstitutional unless there is a compelling government interest. He wrote that neither Idaho nor Nevada offered any legitimate reasons to discriminate against gay couples.
State and federal court judges have been striking down bans at a rapid rate since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year. On Monday, the nation's top court unexpectedly rejected appeals from five states seeking to preserve their bans. The decision cleared the way for a dramatic expansion of gay marriage and might have signaled that it's only a matter of time before same-sex couples can marry in all 50 states.