Gay couples disappointed after flurry of rulings

LAS VEGAS - Gay couples in Las Vegas hoping their luck had finally turned were disappointed as county clerks turned them away amid a flurry of conflicting court decisions over same-sex marriage.

Jefferson Ruck was first in line with his partner of 14 years, Thomas Topovski, at the marriage license bureau in Las Vegas on Wednesday, watching as heterosexual would-be brides and grooms walked to windows ahead of them.

But as the day drew to a close, Ruck, 61, heard that the Clark County clerk would not issue gay marriage licenses Wednesday, and probably not Thursday, either, until officials know that the marriages can legally proceed.

"My take is, it's going to happen," he said. "So, we wait."

The confusion across Nevada was also happening elsewhere. A Supreme Court decision Monday effectively made gay marriage legal in about 30 states. But for several, how and when that would happen remained in doubt. In South Carolina, for example, a judge issued a license for a handful of gay couples, but no one got married as the state's attorney general asked the Supreme Court for a stay.

In Idaho, there were no weddings after Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a ruling early Wednesday that dashed hopes of couples who had headed to courthouses before clerks offices opened.

At 8:01 a.m., Ada County Clerk Chris Rich handed the Supreme Court memo to a lawyer and told a small crowd of gay couples and their supporters gathered in a Boise courthouse: "We're not issuing same-sex marriage licenses today."

The announcement left the room in stunned silence except for a small child asking over and over, "Why?"

"We were past the metal detectors, we were just a few feet away from the clerk," Amber Beierle said. "And then our attorney was handed a one-page document. Apparently, it was Justice Kennedy telling us, No."

Beierle said the toughest moment was when she called her mother, who was driving into town to help celebrate.

"There's just something about hearing your mom's voice that makes everything seem a little more real," she said.

Beierle began to choke up on the phone as she tried to fight back tears. She said she and her partner, Rachael Beierle, were not going to give up their fight, but it was an especially bitter moment because they had never been that close to getting married.

In Las Vegas, chapels readied wedding package deals with Elvis impersonators, and photographers practiced capturing images of two brides in white dresses.

At several points throughout the day, couples thought marriages might begin. But late in the day, Clark County Clerk Diana Alba said they weren't going to happen, and she didn't know when it might.

"I wish I knew a date," she said.

Tara Traynor and her fiancee, Cathy Grimes, had been among those waiting at the Clark County Marriage License Bureau, checking their phones for court developments on gay marriage and letting straight couples cut in front of them while they waited.

"It's kinda disheartening," Traynor said. "We wait and wait, and we're hopeful."

Traynor and Grimes have been together for eight years and were among the first couples to register as domestic partners in Nevada. They went straight to the bureau when they thought they could get a license.

"We wanted to be a part of history," Traynor said.

But other gay couples, excited about the final decision, aren't in any hurry to actually get married.

Greg Flamer said he and Fletcher Whitwell, partners for more than 16 years and Las Vegas residents, have a wedding to plan for the beginning of 2015 and family to invite from Mississippi and New York.

"By that time," Flamer said, "all of these stays and all this legal nonsense will be gone, and there won't be any doubt."


Kruesi reported from Boise. Associated Press reporters Ken Ritter and Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas, Rebecca Boone in Boise, and Paul Elias in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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