With Idaho’s same-sex marriage case still pending at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, attorneys in the case were surprised today that the U.S. Supreme Court denied seven petitions from five states seeking a high court decision on the matter. The Supreme Court’s rejection of appeals from Utah, Indiana, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin clears the way for gay couples to legally marry in those states – plus in six other states that are in the same circuits. Those six states are Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia. That makes same-sex marriage legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia; it’s already legal in Washington.
Idaho, however, is still waiting for a decision. “I think everyone has been very eager for the Supreme Court to take the issue up,” said Deborah Ferguson, attorney for four Idaho lesbian couples who sued to overturn Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage. “It’s unprecedented, as far as I know, to have both sides to a petition for cert in seven different cases dealing with the same topic saying, ‘Yes, we all agree, we want you to take the case.’” More typically, whichever side has won the case at the appellate court level doesn’t want it going up to the Supreme Court – it wants its favorable ruling to stand. But on this issue, all sides have pushed for a high court ruling to settle the matter nationwide.
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who’s been following the same-sex marriage cases, said today’s decision means “it is just a matter of time until the United States has same-sex marriage.” Already, it’s now legal in a majority of states. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.