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Same-sex marriage can begin in Idaho, after justices deny a stay

 (CNN) -- Same-sex marriage can move forward in Idaho after the Supreme Court on Friday refused the state's request to delay implementation.


It was unclear when gays and lesbians in Idaho could legally wed, but the decision will make Idaho the 27th state to allow same-sex marriage.


The high court's two-sentence order came after a federal appeals court on Tuesday found bans in Idaho and neighboring Nevada unconstitutional.


There are an estimated 7,000 or more same-sex couples in Nevada, according to UCLA's Williams Institute, a think tank conducting research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.


Idaho officials had asked the high court to intervene on an emergency basis and block enforcement of the lower court mandate. Friday's order clears the legal hurdles, and gives another victory to supporters of marriage equality.


\"I disagree with the court's conclusion, which negates the 2006 vote of the people of Idaho, is contrary to the values of most Idahoans, and undermines fundamental states' rights,\" said Gov. C.L. \"Butch\" Otter. \"But we are a nation of laws. Idaho now should proceed with civility and in an orderly manner to comply with any forthcoming order from the 9th Circuit.\"


A federal judge in North Carolina also ruled Friday that same-sex marriage can begin there. State officials earlier Friday had announced they would fight any such order.


If eventually upheld, the North Carolina case would add further legal and political momentum to having same-sex marriage allowed in a majority of the United States.


On Monday, the Supreme Court refused to intervene in legal challenges over voter-approved bans in five states: Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin.


That meant three separate appeals court rulings striking down those bans as unconstitutional would go into effect quickly in those states, as well as six others covered by those courts' jurisdiction. That would include West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.


A judge Wednesday in Johnson County, Kansas -- the state's largest county -- also ordered same-sex licenses to be issued.


Kansas officials have since attempted to block the issuance of marriage licenses after the first and only couple successfully obtained a marriage license and wed in Johnson County on Friday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas.


The ACLU of Kansas filed a lawsuit on Friday against district court clerks in Douglas and Sedgwick counties for their refusal to issue marriage applications to two same-sex couples, the nonpartisan nonprofit organization said.


\"The ACLU of Kansas understands that the freedom to marry is an important right. Marriage equality is the law in more than 25 states now,\" said Susan Estes, board president of the ACLU of Kansas, \"and it's time for marriage equality in Kansas. All loving and committed couples -- without restrictions of state lines or sexual orientation -- should have access to the protections that marriage provides.\"


With the addition of Idaho, there are 26 other states that allow same-sex marriage, following the Supreme Court's decision Monday not to review lower court rulings striking down voter-approved bans: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington state and Wisconsin, plus the District of Columbia.


Eight more states could soon legalize it, after federal appeals courts issued binding mandates in recent months: Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Montana, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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