BREAKING: Sup. Ct. legalizes gay marriage in 11 more states

By refusing to hear appeals in cases brought by the states of Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah, the Supreme Court has not only made gay marriage effectively legal in those states, but also in six more: North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming.

UPDATE: Colorado’s Attorney General has told the state’s county clerks that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

UPDATE: Marriages of gay couples have begun in Virginia! Here’s the first:

by-default-2014-10-06-at-3.53.17-PM

UPDATE: Utah!

At 11 a.m., the first same-sex couple arrived to obtain a license, Kelli Frame and Suzanne Marelius. “I’m gonna be the groom?” Kelli asked.

“Growing up, I never thought it would happen,” Kelli said. “I never put myself in the category of people who would get married.”

What happened was that Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Utah recently saw their gay marriage bans struck down by federal courts.

The states then lost their appeals in the federal appellate courts for their regions.

And then, by the Supreme Court today refusing to hear those appeals, the decisions of the appellate courts stand, and those opinions affect every state in the regions they cover.

indiana gay marriage

A gay couple gets married in Indiana.

Thus, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming are affected as well.

This will bring to 30 the total number of states in which gays can wed.

Interestingly, the NYT does not mention the additional six states. Freedom to Marry, the resident expert on gay marriage, however does.

While many gay rights advocates had hoped the court would hear at least one appeal, and use it to legalize gay marriage nationwide, that wasn’t the Supreme Court’s game plan. As I’ve indicated before, I think the court’s pro-gay-marriage majority in US v. Windsor intended gay marriage to come upon the land on cat feet. Slowly. Quietly. State by state. And not all at once.

The idea: to make gay marriage inevitable and boring, so as to ultimately avoid another Roe v. Wade -type decision, that would not only threaten the decision itself, but also the court’s credibility.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Eric L.

    The main hurdle will probably be in the 5th circuit. It’s nauseatingly conservative and the judges on it are more stubborn then mules. Of course, that will also provide a conflict among the circuits that might finally prompt the SCOTUS to take up the question of the legality of gay marriage once and for all.

  • Silver_Witch

    I did not know about the Roe and Evangelical issue. Thank you for sharing.

    What I do know is that haters are haters…regardless. Take a look at the posting about women by men out on the web. And we have had rights for a very long time. As I said, ditto on the race issue.

    But if Cattie Feet work – great. I am beyond happy that more can marry today then on Monday….I am beyond happy that people are starting to realize the world will not come to an end if people who love each other marry..regardless of the bits and bobs between their legs.

    And I dream of the day when all of this silliness, racism, oppression of women and homophobia are a thing we no longer live.

  • KathFriendafi

    my best frends cousin just got an almost new cream Nissan Armada SUV by working part time off of a laptop… read this post here HOME EARNINGS REPORT

  • AdmNaismith

    My point is that these are all State level decisions. The Federal recognition issue has barely been broached. The Windsor decision was huge in many ways, but legally narrow.
    DOMA still needs to go away completely, and the 4th Amendment needs to be invoked so all the States are performing and recognizing marriages equally. I expect that to take another 5 years unless a suit is filed tomorrow and the SCOTUS takes it up this time next year. Your 2 yr prediction feels like a bare minimum.
    I’m saying that without definitive equality legislation (from this Congress?) we are in for another couple of years to get this through the courts.

    And for anyone wondering how to file their taxes now that they are gay married, just do it like every other straight couple. No quibbling.
    I’ve been filing Joint/Married for 10 years with nary a peep from State or Federal officials.

  • Ryan

    I’m not sure if the conventional wisdom is correct about Roe. The Evangelical Christians who are the core of the anti-abortion movement applauded Roe as a victory of religious freedom against the interference from Catholics. It wasn’t until the politicization of Evangelical Christians via Falwell, Robertson, etc, that abortion became an issue for them. It’s not clear to me that a more Windsor-like ruling would have made a difference even if it were possible.

    That said, I’m not sure if the cattie feeties strategy is the wrong one. For one thing, it is the result of the way the courts are supposed to work. The proponents of Proposition 8 didn’t have standing to appeal, and there weren’t any divisions in the appeals courts for the Supreme Court to resolve today.

  • Ryan

    Two years, max. All that is left is for cases to reach the remaining circuit courts. There are no states left in the 1st-3rd circuits. The 4th and 10th will be resolved soon now that the appeals are exhausted. The 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, and 11th have cases pending. Given today’s action by the Supreme Court, these cases should be easily won. I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect that courts might start granting summary judgement since this question has been addressed by so many courts already and the Supreme Court has made it clear it has no intention of giving any additional clarification.

  • GreatLakeSailor

    From: http://www.towleroad.com/2014/10/supreme-court-denies-review-in-all-7-marriage-equality-cases-marriages-to-begin-soon.html

    Third, if I wanted to be a little cheeky, I would say the Court is
    almost daring the conservatives on the Sixth Circuit to uphold the ban
    on gays marrying. “We dare you to send us a bigoted decision saying gays
    cannot marry. We just allowed 11 more states to let gays marry.
    Marriage equality is almost literally surrounding the Sixth Circuit. We
    dare you! Watch how fast we reject you.”
    –Ari Ezra Waldman on Towleroad

    and this too: http://www.towleroad.com/2014/10/waldman2.html

  • Sad indeed. There’s more than enough evidence to remove Scalia and Thomas from their seats but it’s not going to happen because the people who would have to do that (Congress) are bribed by the same interests.

  • Bill_Perdue

    It’s so good that you finally got to marry. It seems like such a simple thing to ask for and those who’d deny that right are criminals.

    You have my deepest sympathies for your loss.

  • ericxdc

    “…and I say bigotry now, bigotry tomorrow, bigotry forever.”

  • AnitaMann

    Sad that we have to make predictions on how a justice is going to be bribed, rather than on how he will rule based on, y’know, consistency with the Constitution. When it comes down to it, the 5 RW justices are corporatists (esp Alito and Roberts).

  • FLL

    South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson channels George Wallace:

    http://www.wltx.com/story/news/local/2014/10/06/gay-marriage-fight-not-over-in-south-carolina/16814305/

  • Thom Allen

    So sorry to hear that your husband died. Sympathies. Glad that you could be married first.

  • FLL

    Now that you mention it, the nation is already at the point that it was in 1967 regarding interracial marriage when a solid majority of states had no laws prohibiting interracial marriage, but only a minority of Southern states did.

  • Actually, there have been lawsuits filed in every single state at this point. For a while, I think North Dakota was the last off the list, until someone noticed and filed a suit.

    http://www.freedomtomarry.org/states/

  • AdmNaismith

    This is great news, and the best we can hope for from this court.

    Next up:
    -Wiping DOMA out completely
    -Enforcing the 4th amendment in states where no lawsuits were filed and bans remain on the books.

    DOMA can be taken care of like DADT. Well see…
    The rest is going to take another painfully slow 5-10 years of court cases to resolve.

  • I scoffed when Andy Humm put for this opinion about the right wing justices and gay marriage but I’m starting to think he’s right. Corporations want this issue settled because differences between who is married in one state vs another or between the state and federal laws in the state where they are working (vs where the company’s headquarters are located) are causing major headaches. So will Scalia side with his church or with the big donors who pay for his vacations? Will Thomas side with the religious right or with the corporations that bribe him through his wife? I think they’d rather not have to choose so they will just let the lower courts decisions stand unless they can’t avoid doing so.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The rate of progress in the fight for marriage equality is overwhelming.

    Our next fight is for ENDA or a CRA without exclusions for cults. That will be much more difficult because bigots in both parties have blocked it for over 40 years using one tactic or another.

    After the fight for marriage equality it should be much easier to win massive support for workplace, housing and public access equality. Our polling numbers have always been very high on these issues with this exception – many people are under the impression that we already have those rights. The only way to get them is by forcing Congress to act and that will require a huge effort on our part because both parties are right centrist and moving right.

  • jomicur

    I believe their ruling is due in November (but don’t quote me on it).

  • In fact, the cultural push for marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples began to take off during the advent of the HIV pandemic, when people who’d been together for years or decades suddenly found they had no rights at all. State authorities and family members would show up, seize everything, and put the grieving widow on the streets with nothing.

    Remember this?
    http://americablog.com/2013/10/worst-parents-in-the-world-2.html

    What I think happened over the last decade and a half is what began in Massachusetts. Marriage equality was passed…and nothing terrible happened. When I think further back to when DOMA was passed, it happened not because there was marriage, but because Hawaii was merely thinking about it — hence panic over something that didn’t even exist, but which could be projected onto by the haters and bigots as some kind of cultural apocalypse.

    But Mass…I think after that, more and more gay and lesbian couples (including my wife and I) felt safer coming out to our communities as (1) existing and not really bothering anyone with our existence, (2) totally ordinary, and (3) being denied rights other people could take for granted. Or, as I was oft to quote, 1100 rights available upon demand for any opposite sex couple, even if they’d met an hour before, got drunk and married by an Elvis impersonator in Vegas.

  • Silver_Witch

    Ohhh 2karmanot – I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Hubby…so glad you could marry him before he was gone. Peace to you my friend.

  • Silver_Witch

    While “cattie feeties” are very nice…it seems to me that sometimes letting the truth stand on its own is better still. Should we have let abortion be the law state-by-state so that we would not have all these haters running around trying to make abortion and pill control now for that matter not accessible.

    Haters are gonna hate…there are still people that hate interracial marriages and that has been the law of the law for let’s say 40 years…..woman have had the right to vote for nearly 100 years, and yet….there are still men (and women) who think we belong in the kitchen and not in the voting booth.

    So on with the cattie feet approach – I hope it works.

  • Likewise.

    Slowly, but surely, our marriages will no longer begin and end at our home states’ borders.

    Also, here in New Mexico, hopefully this will put the kibosh on state GOPer’s grumblings about trying to pass a state constitutional amendment to end the marriages that were made legal last year.

  • 2patricius2

    Ditto!

  • And at that point, if they’re forced to weigh in, and a majority of the states already have gay marriage anyway by then, the supreme court can easily rule that their hands are tied, that they have to enforce uniformity nationwide since most states have already decided to do it. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg feint, but it again makes it look less like the court is being activist, rather than following the lead of the states (that were forced to move ahead by the court, but oh well :)

  • AnitaMann

    Anyone know when the 6th is likely to rule? Didn’t they just hear arguments?

  • jomicur

    I was absolutely elated when I read the news about the court. And ever since I read NOM’s press release, I’ve been cackling like a little gay fiend.

  • FLL

    Happy to hear that you were finally able to take advantage of the new law. Marriage equality came to the Netherlands first back in 2000, I think. I find it annoying when mainstream media folks say that the advent of marriage equality has been “breathtakingly quick” or some such sentiment. From 2000 to 2014, I agree with you that the process has not been inevitable or boring or “quick.”

  • 2karmanot

    Certainly for many of us marriage was neither inevitable or boring. We waited 24 years and finally married this June. My husband died in July. That ceremony was the highlight of our lives.

  • dcinsider

    No SCOTUS without a circuit split. Sixth Circuit may be emboldened to be the first to uphold the bans, and invite SCOTUS review, but SCOTUS knew full well what denial of cert would mean. This ballgame is over.

  • nicho

    The 6th probably won’t. It is known for making bad decisions. It is the most overturned circuit in the country, with 31 out of its last 38 decisions being tossed out. It must have been set up as a haven for politically connected law school dropouts.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Although I live in a state that already had marriage equality, this still feels really good.

  • FLL

    The idea: to make gay marriage inevitable and boring, so as to ultimately avoid another Roe v. Wade -type decision…

    That seems to be Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s strategy. If the 5th and 6th Courts of Appeals rule in favor of marriage equality by November or so, the Supreme Court could likewise refuse to hear those cases, bringing the total number of marriage equality states closer to 50 (or maybe just plain 50). If either the 5th or 6th Courts of Appeals rules against marriage equality, the Supreme Court would almost be forced to step in. Things have to get sorted out nationwide by early January, according to the Supreme Court’s timetable. Too bad Robert Bork will likely vote against marriage equality… oh, no… wait… Reagan didn’t get his way, did he? The Martians (or the invisible unicorns) filibustered Bork’s nomination back in the 1980s.

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