The March Of Marriage Equality Across The Country Continues
Check out the latest version of the marriage equality map:
In just 16 days, a dozen states that previously did not allow same-sex couples to marry have overturned their laws. What happened?
The biggest development was actually something that didn’t happen. On October 6, the Supreme Court refused to hear the pending marriage equality cases from a number of Circuit Courts, quietly making marriage equality the law of the land in a number of states. Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Utah, the states originating those lawsuits, got marriage equality more or less immediately. That also set off a number of other states getting marriage equality because they reside within the area occupied by these Circuit Courts and are therefore bound by their rulings. Between those states and other federal courts deciding that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, here’s when and where decisions affirming marriage equality have been made since.
October 7: Colorado. Because Colorado falls under the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling striking down Utah and Oklahoma’s bans, GOP Attorney General John Suthers announced that he would withdraw his appeals.
October 8: Nevada. The day before, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down same-sex marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. Idaho asked the Supreme Court to delay the ruling, while Nevada did not. Justice Anthony Kennedy issued a stay for both states out of confusion, but then rescinded it for Nevada a day later.
October 9: West Virginia. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia announced that in light of the Supreme Court declining to review the Fourth Circuit ruling, he considers same-sex marriage legal in West Virginia, and he will stop defending the state’s law banning same-sex marriage.
October 10: North Carolina. Also citing the Fourth Circuit ruling, District Judge Max Cogburn issued a short decision striking down North Carolina’s ban and beginning same-sex marriages in the state.
October 12: Alaska. Alaska became the 30th marriage equality state when Federal Judge Timothy Burgess, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, citing the ruling by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
October 15: Idaho. The stay issued by Anthony Kennedy was lifted, bringing marriage equality to Idaho.
October 17: Arizona. Referencing the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Idaho and Nevada, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick, a George H.W. Bush appointee, concluded that Arizona’s ban was substantially similar and thus must also be struck down.
October 21: Wyoming. Today, a little over 16 years after Matthew Shepard was murdered in Laramie, Wyoming for being gay, same-sex marriage is now legal in “The Equality State.” A federal judge overturned its ban on same-sex marriage on Friday, but stayed the decision for a full week to allow for an appeal. The state decided not to appeal, bringing an end to the stay a few days early.
BOTTOM LINE: Marriage equality continues to sweep the United States, with ruling after ruling going in favor of equal rights and against those who misconstrue the Constitution to deny the freedom to marry to others. The political opposition is breaking down as well: yesterday, GOP Attorney General of Arizona Tom Horne called it “unethical” to keep fighting marriage equality in the courts. The Supreme Court has yet to issue an affirmative ruling, however: it looks like the one way that marriage equality could still lose is if the Supreme Court moves too slowly, and the composition of the court changes before it officially says that equality is required under the Constitution.