Supreme Court admits halt to gay marriage in Nevada was error

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WASHINGTON — 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 this 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.

The Supreme Court received the request around 8:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday and Kennedy issued his order about 80 minutes later, 10 minutes before he and the other justices took the bench to hear arguments.

After lawyers and reporters sought clarification of the order, Kennedy put out a new order that began, "Upon further consideration..." He lifted his hold as it applied to Nevada, but left it in place for Idaho.

The Idaho order remains in effect, although Kennedy gave lawyers for same-sex couples until 5 p.m. EDT Thursday to explain why he should end the delay in Idaho as well. Meanwhile, an anti-gay marriage group in Nevada has asked Kennedy to keep a hold on marriage there. The other side's response to that request also is due at 5 p.m. Thursday.

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