Just 12 years ago, it was illegal for gays and lesbians to marry anywhere in the U.S.
Supreme Court Clears Gay Marriage In Eleven States
Via LA Times reports:
But Monday, the drive to legalize same-sex marriage — which began some two decades ago as a seemingly far-fetched quest — neared final victory as the Supreme Court cleared the way for gays and lesbians to marry in 11 additional states, bringing the total to 30 plus the District of Columbia.
Now, more than half of Americans live in a state that offers, or will soon offer, what supporters call “marriage equality.”
Social conservatives had seen the high court as their last hope to halt the rapid advance of gay marriage. But in a surprise move, the justices rejected without comment appeals from five states whose bans against same-sex marriage had been struck down by lower courts.
The decision means gay marriage will be legal even in the South. Virginia, one of the states whose laws were invalidated when the high court refused to intervene, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples within hours.
By not issuing a formal ruling, the justices put off the question of whether the Constitution guarantees gays and lesbians a right to marry. Although the outcome does not set a legal precedent that binds lower courts, it did send a strong message that same-sex marriage could soon be legal across the country.
The court’s decision made gay marriage immediately legal in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Six additional states will be affected because they are in the same federal appellate circuit court districts that have declared gay marriage bans unconstitutional: North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming. Separately, 19 states had legalized same-sex marriage.
The high court’s action capped a legal and political reversal of nearly unprecedented proportions on what was once one of the nation’s most divisive social issues.
James Esseks of the American Civil Liberties Union called the action “a watershed movement for the entire country. We are one big step closer to the day when all same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry.”
Indeed, the number of states where gay couples can marry will probably grow again soon, since the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to issue a ruling that would strike down gay marriage bans in five Western states under its jurisdiction: Nevada, Idaho, Alaska, Arizona and Montana.
Once that happens, bans on same-sex marriage will remain enforceable in just over a dozen states in the Midwest and South. What will happen there is the key question, which Monday’s action left unresolved.
The justices will not allow the Constitution’s guarantee of “equal protection of the laws” to mean one thing in one region of the country and something different in another — at least not for an extended period.
One possibility is that judges in the appeals courts that have not yet ruled will take a cue from the high court and strike down the remaining bans.
Gay marriage is coming to a state near you!!!!