Marriage Equality for 11 More States
The Supreme Court refused to get involved in the national debate over same-sex marriage Monday, leaving intact lower court rulings that will legalize the practice in 11 additional states.
This decision by the justices was unexpected, and they made their decision without further explanation. It immediately affects five states in which federal appeals courts had struck down bans against gay marriage: Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah.
It also will bring along six other states located in the judicial circuits overseen by those appellate courts: North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming. Lower court judges in those states must abide by their appeals court rulings.
According to USA Today, the action eventually will bring to 30 the number of states where gays and lesbians can marry.
“The court’s letting stand these victories means that gay couples will soon share in the freedom to marry in 30 states, representing 60% of the American people,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. ‘But we are one country, with one Constitution, and the court’s delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places.’ What happens now will occur in stages. The five states whose petitions were denied will have same-sex marriages almost immediately—starting at 1 p.m. Monday in Virginia. In the other six, at least one more court proceeding will be necessary.
The number of states with legalized gay marriage could quickly expand to 35 states if the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denies bans in Idaho and Nevada, which could happen any day. That ruling would affect Alaska, Arizona and Montana as well.
Cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee are pending before the 6th Circuit appeals court, which has been seen as a panel that could uphold bans in those states. If it goes the same way as the others, the list of states could expand to 39.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage, and the high court ruled last year that the federal government cannot deny benefits to such couples. It sidestepped the remaining state laws by taking no position on the merits of California’s ban, which had been struck down by lower federal courts. Since those decisions were handed down, six additional states have legalized gay marriage, and federal and state judges in at least 14 more states have overturned marriage bans, beginning with Utah last December. All those rulings had been put on hold during the appeals process, leaving 31 bans in place—until Monday.”
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