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Rulings lead to confusion on legality of gay marriage

LAS VEGAS — Confusion and uncertainty about gay marriage spread Wednesday as couples in Las Vegas wondered whether they'd be allowed to wed and partners in Idaho dealt with disappointment after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling blocked them from marrying.

Officials and judges in other states weighed in, meanwhile, in the latest flurry of legal wrangling over an issue that has sparked a series of rulings this week that have left couples in limbo.

"I think I have whiplash," said Mary Baranovich, a plaintiff in the Nevada case with Beverly Sevcik, her partner of 43 years.

Wedding chapels and city officials prepared for a wave of gay couples after a morning of back-and-forth rulings that stemmed from the Supreme Court decision Monday that effectively made gay marriage legal in about 30 states.

The ruling did not, however, decide the matter for the rest of the nation, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles much of the West, issued a decision Tuesday that appeared to overturn gay marriage bans in cases from Nevada and Idaho, clearing the way for same-sex unions in those states.

But Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a ruling that seemed to block gay marriage in both states with a temporary delay. Hours later, a new memo from the Supreme Court clarified the decision, saying it applied only to Idaho because officials there challenged the 9th Circuit's decision.

In other states, officials made a patchwork of decisions.

A judge in northeast Kansas, a state affected by the Supreme Court's ruling Monday, ordered a county to issue same-sex marriage licenses and said the ruling was meant to clear up confusion. The attorney general in South Carolina asked the state Supreme Court to stop a judge from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And a federal judge in North Carolina lifted temporary delays in two cases challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban.