Weddings, court rulings and confusion are defining a week that started with the U.S. Supreme Court denying appeals from five states seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage, followed by a ruling overturning some bans in Western states. Here's a rundown of the most recent developments:
GOING TO THE CHAPEL
Gay couples in Las Vegas cheered at the marriage license bureau when days of anticipation became reality and the county clerk began granting same-sex partners the right to wed shortly after 5 p.m. About 430 miles north, Kristy Best and Wednesday Smith became the first same-sex couple in the state to get a license about 3 p.m. Thursday. Gay couples in West Virginia also began receiving marriage licenses after the state's attorney general dropped his fight opposing same-sex unions. At least one couple was married in a brief civil ceremony outside the courthouse in Huntington, the Herald-Dispatch reported.
MOVEMENT IN OTHER STATES
— Gay couples in West Virginia began receiving marriage licenses after the state's attorney general dropped his fight opposing same-sex unions. At least one couple was married in a brief civil ceremony outside the Cabell County Courthouse, The Huntington Herald-Dispatch reported.
— Republican legislative leaders in North Carolina have until noon Friday to prepare arguments seeking a delay in action on a pair of challenges to North Carolina's gay marriage ban. The judge appears poised to strike down the ban approved by North Carolina voters in 2012.
— Four gay couples in Idaho asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow same-sex weddings in accordance with the 9th Circuit ruling earlier this week. The filing came in opposition to the emergency delay from Justice Kennedy that caused confusion Wednesday.
— The Arkansas Supreme Court refused to delay a challenge to that state's gay marriage ban, rejecting the state attorney general who had asked the court to put the case on hold.
— The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered lower state courts not to issue same-sex marriage licenses until a federal judge decides whether the state constitution's ban on the unions is legal. The move came a day after a judge in Charleston had begun accepting applications.
— The wedding plans of gay couples across Kansas remain in limbo, with all but one of the state's 105 counties refusing to issue marriage licenses.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says it shouldn't be up to the Supreme Court to decide whether states allow gay marriage. The Republican governor, widely viewed as a contender for president in 2016, told reporters Thursday that he believes states should have the ability to decide the issue on their own. Christie personally opposes same-sex marriage but dropped his administration's legal challenge to a lower court's decision allowing it last year. He said he has been upholding the law since then. Christie had avoided commenting on the court's decision at a campaign stop earlier this week.
The marriage confusion even tripped up someone who should definitely know better.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy mistakenly blocked the start of same-sex marriage in Nevada in an order that spawned confusion among state officials and disappointment in couples hoping to be wed. Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg confirmed the mix-up Thursday, saying Kennedy's order issued a day earlier was an error that the justice corrected with a second order several hours later. By that time, however, Nevada officials had decided to hold off on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Wednesday until they could be certain the legal situation was settled.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco declared bans on same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada illegal on Tuesday. Idaho quickly asked the Supreme Court for a delay, but Nevada planned to allow same-sex weddings to proceed. The trouble arose because Idaho's request to the court included a document from the appeals court that listed case numbers for both states.
WAITING ON CINCINNATI
There also is growing anticipation for a ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati.
A three-judge panel heard arguments two months ago on challenges to gay marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, the biggest hearing of its kind on the issue.
Its eventual ruling could help determine when or even whether the Supreme Court takes up the issue. There has been no indication of a timetable by the 6th Circuit.
SO, HOW MANY STATES ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE?
It's a little complicated. Before the Supreme Court's denial, there were 19 states that firmly allowed gay marriage.
The Supreme Court's action Monday added five states, plus six others that were affected because they were in the same federal circuits that appealed. That would make 30 states allowing gay marriage, but some of them are still trying to block it or haven't yet instituted mechanisms for weddings. And a federal appeals court ruled in favor of gay marriage in Idaho and Nevada, bringing the total effectively to 32, but marriages have yet to take place in Idaho.
So, how many states allow gay marriage? Thirty, give or take a few.