WASHINGTON — In a move that may signal the inevitability of a nationwide right to same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court on Monday let stand appeals court rulings allowing such unions in five states.
The development, a major surprise, cleared the way for same-sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. Officials in Virginia announced that marriages would start at 1 p.m. on Monday.
The decision to let the appeals court rulings stand, which came without explanation in a series of brief orders, will almost immediately increase the number of states allowing same-sex marriage from 19 to 24, along with the District of Columbia. The impact of the move will in short order be even broader.
Monday’s orders let stand decisions from three federal appeals courts with jurisdiction over six other states that ban same-sex marriage: Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those appeals courts will almost certainly follow their own precedents to strike down those additional bans as well, meaning the number of states with same-sex marriage should soon climb to 30.