Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to deny five states’ appeals of federal court rulings overturning their bans on same-sex marriage means same-sex marriage now is legal in those states and in six others that are in the same districts and had pending cases. Overall, that means same-sex couples can now legally marry in 30 states and the District of Columbia. That includes Utah, which was among the five states whose appeal was denied; but not Idaho, whose case still is pending at the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Click below for a full report from the AP in Washington, D.C.
High court denies gay marriage appeals
MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for an immediate expansion of same-sex marriage by unexpectedly and tersely turning away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions. The court's order effectively makes gay marriage legal now in 30 states.
Without comment, the justices brought to an end delays in same-sexmarriages in five states— Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Couples in six other states — Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — should be able to get married in short order. Those states would be bound by the same appellate rulings that were put on hold pending the Supreme Court's review
No other state cases were currently pending with the high court, but the justices stopped short of resolving for now the question of same-sex marriagenationwide. Still, those 11 states would bring to 30 the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal, plus the District of Columbia.
Challenges are pending in every state.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, called on the high court to "finish the job." Wolfson said 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."
Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an opponent of same-sexmarriage, also chastised the court for its "irresponsible denial of review in the cases." Whelan said it is hard to see how the court could eventually rule in favor of same-sex marriage bans after having allowed so many court decisions striking down those bans to remain in effect.
Experts and advocates on both sides of the issue had expected the justices to step in and decide gay marriage cases this term.
The justices have an obligation to settle an issue of such national importance, not abdicate that responsibility to lower court judges, the advocates said. Opting out of hearing the cases leaves those lower court rulings in place.
Two other appeals courts, in Cincinnati and San Francisco, could issue decisions any time in same-sex marriage cases. Judges in the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit who are weighing pro-gay marriage rulings in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, appeared more likely to rule in favor of state bans than did the 9th Circuit judges in San Francisco, who are considering Idaho and Nevada restrictions on marriage.
It takes just four of the nine justices to vote to hear a case, but it takes a majority of at least five for an eventual ruling. Monday's opaque order did not indicate how the justices voted on whether to hear the appeals.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press