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Supreme Court: Kennedy erred in halting Nevada same-sex marriages

WASHINGTON -- U.S. 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.

Same-sex marriage expansion

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. They joined a rapidly growing number of states where gay marriage bans have been struck down.

But Idaho quickly asked the Supreme Court for a delay, while 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. (1230 GMT) 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. 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.

Supreme Court declines to hear gay marriage appeals

Dramatic changes in the number of states allowing same-sex couples to marry began on Monday, with terse orders from the Supreme Court. The high court let similar rulings from three appeals courts become final and effectively raised to 30 the number of states where same-sex couples can marry, or soon will be able to do so. The rulings appeared to increase the number of states allowing gay marriage to 32.

But there is resistance among some of the affected states.

Among them is South Carolina, which was affected because the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a ruling overturning Virginia's same-sex marriage ban by a court that also has jurisdiction over South Carolina.

On Thursday, the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered courts in the state not to issue same-sex marriage licenses until a federal judge specifically decides whether the state constitution's ban on the unions is legal.

A day earlier, a South Carolina judge had begun accepting applications for the licenses, basing the move on the ruling overturning Virginia's same-sex marriage ban.

The South Carolina order disappointed dozens of gay couples in a whirlwind week of legal maneuvers.

In another similarly affected state, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his office will no longer fight a court challenge to the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

Morrisey issued a statement that his office "will respect" the recent U.S. Supreme Court declining to review the lower court's ruling striking down Virginia's ban. But Morrisey says he still doesn't agree with the high court's stance.

A CBS News/New York Times poll taken in February showed more than half of the country - 56 percent - backs legalizing same-sex marriage.

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