Some US gay marriages must wait despite court ruling

Gay rights supporters celebrate the US Supreme Court ruling.
Gay rights supporters celebrate the US Supreme Court ruling.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO (AFP) - Some gay couples were told they would have to wait to obtain marriage licences Friday, despite a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court legalising gay marriage across the United States.

The attorneys-general of the southern states of Mississippi and Louisiana said the decision would not go into immediate effect as local courts studied the ruling.

"This could come quickly or may take several days," Attorney-General Jim Hood on Mississippi said in a statement released to local media.

Louisiana's James Caldwell said he would issue a statement once the Supreme Court had issued a mandate formally making the decision effective, but made no secret of his own view.

"This Supreme Court decision overturns the will of the people of Louisiana, and it takes away a right that should have been left to the states," he complained.

There was confusion in Texas after its attorney-general issued a statement telling county clerks to wait for his interpretation of the court's decision before issuing marriage certificates.

He then issued a statement denouncing the decision and vowing to protect religious liberty, indicating clerks could refuse to issue the certificates if doing so violated their faith.

"No court, no law, no rule, and no words will change the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman," Attorney-General Ken Paxton said.

"Our guiding principle should be to protect people who want to live, work and raise their families in accordance with their religious faith."

Some county clerks - most notably in the cities of Austin and Dallas - ignored his suggestion and began issuing marriage licences immediately, but others were reportedly turning people away.

However, most of the leaders of the 13 states whose bans on gay marriage were overturned accepted the ruling as the law of the land, though some did so begrudgingly.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who recently launched his bid for the White House, warned the decision would "pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians".

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said that while he believes the issue "should be decided by the states and by legislatures, not the federal judiciary" his state will follow the law.

Others welcomed the court's ruling as an opportunity to shelve a divisive debate.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder urged people to "respect the judicial process," embrace diversity and "treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve".

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said the "fractured laws across the country concerning same-sex marriage had created an unsustainable and unbalanced legal environment" which was "unfair, no matter which side of the debate you may support."