Tag: Post DOMA
(Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday to decide once and for all whether states can ban gay marriage, a surprising move that will allow gay men and women to get married in five additional states, with more likely to follow quickly.
On the first day of its new term, the high court without comment rejected appeals in cases involving five states – Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and Indiana – that had prohibited gay marriage, leaving intact lower-court rulings striking down those bans.
As a result, the number of states permitting gay marriage would jump from 19 to 24, likely soon to be followed by six more states that are bound by the regional federal appeals court rulings that had struck down other bans. That would leave another 20 states that prohibit same-sex marriage.
But the move by the nine justices to sidestep the contentious issue means there will be no imminent national ruling on the matter, with litigation likely to continue in states with bans.
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.
The Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage in 11 more states Monday, for a total of 30, when it rejected a set of appeals. As many as 60 percent of Americans now live in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
Here’s what’s happening Monday in the affected states:
Pueblo County is now issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. The decision from county Clerk Bo Ortiz comes after Republican state Attorney General John Suthers said Monday his office will file motions seeking to quickly lift federal and state court rulings that halted gay marriage. Suthers has yet to advise clerks if they can begin issuing licenses, but Ortiz said there was never a court order against Pueblo County to delay.
Gov. Mike Pence reaffirmed his commitment to traditional marriage on Monday but said he will follow the law regarding unions of same-sex couples. Pence said people are free to disagree over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject an app…..
Mark your calendars: the Supreme Court is scheduled to consider its next steps on gay marriage when the justices meet for the first time since their summer break.
The court on Wednesday listed gay marriage petitions from five states – Indiana,Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin – for consideration at its Sept. 29 private conference. Officials in those states are asking the court to decide whether state bans on same-sex marriage are constitutional.
The justices use the September meeting to wade through stacks of appeals that pile up during the court’s three-month recess. The court at some point after the conference is expected to add several of those cases to its docket for the term that begins Oct. 6. Court watchers are eagerly awaiting word on whether one or more gay marriages cases will be among them.
The court is under no obligation to act right away. It’s possible the court could take additional time to mull its options, particularly because of fast-moving developments in other gay-marriage litigation.
Litigants, as well as lower court judges, are racing to have their voices heard before the Supreme Court makes its next move. Three federal appeals courts this summer have ruled against state gay-marriage bans, including one that issued a lightning quick decision last week. The Chicago-based Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down prohibitions from Indiana and Wisconsin in a 40-page opinion issued a mere nine days after the court heard oral argument.
Not to be outdone, attorneys general from those two losing states moved even faster in appealing the Seventh Circuit’s ruling to the Supreme Court. Indiana and Wisconsin each filed petitions with the high court Tuesday, jockeying to have their cases be the ones in the spotlight. Challengers to bans in those two states filed responses with the Supreme Court right away, also urging high-court intervention. The sprint to submit the documents allowed the two cases to make the list for the justices’ first private conference, a remarkably swift turnaround time rarely seen at the court.
It was a moment of stark contrasts the other day at the Dade County Courthouse: gay vs. straight, well-to-do vs. working class, secular humanists vs. evangelicals, gay lovers vs. homophobes.
What brought them together physically and separated them philosophically was gay marriage. More than 200 people — hard-core supporters and opponents of gay marriage — tried to jam into historic old Courtroom 6-1, where Judge Sarah Zabel was to hold a hearing. So many spectators they had to open an adjacent courtroom outfitted with a large TV. It was there that the anti-gay-marriage group, wearing Respect My Vote signs, broke into Amazing Grace. They were answered by the pro-gay-marriage group, which began chanting, “Marriage equality, marriage equality.” Police moved in to defuse the demonstration, but the passions on this issue will not soon be quelled.
The tide is running fast in favor of same-sex marriage. It has been since the Supreme Court last year struck down key provisions of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. The court said that all states, even those with gay-marriage bans, must recognize same-sex marriages performed in states where it’s legal. Since that ruling, some 23 courts have struck down state bans as unconstitutional.
The judges — of all political stripes and persuasions — have ruled the bans violate the Constitution’s equal-protection and due-process clauses. And those guarantees trump voter-approved bans.
In half a dozen states, the attorneys general chose not to defend the bans in court because they saw the handwriting on the wall (and the court orders) and concluded they’d lose. In Florida, Attorney General Pam Bondi sat on the sidelines for several months, but finally announced a few weeks before the Miami-Dade hearing that she would defend Florida’s ban. In her court filings, Bondi said that, “Disrupting Florida’s existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm.” She failed to say exactly what the harm would be because there would be none. Still, Bondi’s arguments got a big thumbs-up from groups such as the Christian Family Coalition of Miami, which praised Bondi for being “on the right side of history.”
But she’s not.
The battle to legalize same-sex marriage saw a historic victory this week when the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver became the first federal appeals court in the nation to declare that same-sex couples have a “fundamental right” to wed.
The decision, striking down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage, extended a remarkable string of favorable federal court rulings; a similar ruling was issued on the same day by a Federal District Court in Indiana. The decision also provides a vehicle for the issue’s possible return to the Supreme Court next term.
“To claim that marriage, by definition, excludes certain couples is simply to insist that those couples may not marry because they have historically been denied the right to do so,” Judge Carlos Lucero, a Clinton appointee, wrote in a majority opinion in the Utah case, joined by Judge Jerome Holmes, a George W. Bush appointee. “One might just as easily have argued that interracial couples are by definition excluded from the institution of marriage.”
The opinion affirmed a lower court’s decision in December that resulted in more than 1,000 same-sex marriages in Utah before the Supreme Court issued a stay.
All in all, this has been a year of extraordinary progress on same-sex marriage. Almost exactly a year ago, the Supreme Court left standing a lower-court ruling overturning Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage; that case has given rise in recent weeks to two books and an HBO movie.
But the prime factor behind the explosion of lawsuits challenging state bans, as well as the many court rulings rejecting discrimination in both red and blue states, is United States v. Windsor — the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act’s denial of federal benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples. The 10th Circuit decision in the Utah case included many references to the Defense of Marriage Act ruling.
Utah’s attorney general, Sean Reyes, has said he intends to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Decisions on same-sex marriage are expected in coming months from other federal appeals courts as well, with the soonest perhaps from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Virginia.
Yet the Supreme Court need not — and should not — wait for every appeals court to act or for a conflict to emerge among different circuits to revisit the same-sex marriage question and provide a definitive ruling making marriage equality the law of the land.
WASHINGTON D.C. — After 17 days of legal limbo regarding same-sex marriages in the state of Utah, the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked new unions there until a federal appeals court can spend more time debating and addressing their legality, the Associated Press reported Monday morning.
According to the AP, more than 900 same-sex couples have been married in the state of Utah since December 20, when U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriages violated the constitutional rights of its non-heterosexual citizens.