Surprising most court observers, the Supreme Court declined to take up multiple same sex marriage appeals, letting stand lower court rulings overturning the bans on gay marriage in five states (with implications for six more). The Court issued its decision without comment.
Thirty-one states still prohibit same sex marriages, but SCOTUS’ decision to let the three lower court decisions stand would appear to effectively legalize the practice in the five states directly involved in the appeals plus six other states within the appellate courts’ jurisdictions, including Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Since the Court overturned DOMA last summer three appellate courts have struck down five state-level bans on same sex marriage in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The court’s 2013 decision required the federal government to recognize gay marriages in states that legally allow them, but declined to rule on whether the federal government could compel a state to allow same sex marriages.
The decision is certainly a victory for gay rights advocates, though it stops short once again of implementing a nationwide right to same sex marriage.
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